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Striking junior doctors in Zimbabwe on Friday spurned a government moratorium to return to work, pressing on with their demands for higher pay and better equipment.

The government offered a reprieve on Thursday on the condition that the doctors, on strike since the beginning of September, return to work within 48 hours, with no questions asked.

As of Tuesday, Nov. 26, 448 doctors had been fired by the Health Services Board after it instituted disciplinary hearings that were spurned by the doctors.

Following President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s meeting with Catholic bishops at State House on Thursday, the government decided to offer the doctors the two-day moratorium.

However, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said the moratorium did not address the issues raised by the striking doctors.

“The moratorium has come without a new offer on the table having been communicated to us,” the ZHDA said in a statement.

“Should this moratorium lapse without the formal communication of an offer that is reasonable, it would stand as yet another gracious privilege that is lost,” the statement said.

The ZHDA, however, said the doctors “remain open to dialogue, hoping that a lasting solution will be found without further delay.”

The prolonged strike has caused suffering among patients, resulting in deaths and other health complications.

Although the Labor Court declared the strike illegal, the doctors stayed away, citing inability to respect the verdict.

This prompted the Health Services Board to summon them for disciplinary hearings, which most of them spurned, leading to the dismissals and the withholding of their salaries.

Senior doctors, some of whom had been attending to emergency cases at the government hospitals, on Tuesday announced that they would also withdraw their services in solidarity with their fired juniors, throwing the public health delivery system in further turmoil. Enditem

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