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Doctors win the battle but …

Blessing Zulu

IN a desperate bid to avert the total collapse of the country’s health delivery system the government has agreed to an accommodation with doctors on pay, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

The doctors are now set to gross $6 million a month including allowances. The basic salary has been increased from $378 000 to $1,7 million a month. Allowances payable to doctors now amount to $4,3 million a month.

On-call allowances have been increased by 400% from a monthly $450 000. Other allowances including transport, housing and medical aid have been increased by about the same margin. The doctors now also enjoy a new risk allowance.

The on-call allowances which were taxed at the rate of 45% will now be levied at a concessionary rate of 40%. A special tax bracket for this allowance of 40% has been arranged. Zimbabwe’s tax, one of the highest in the world, is 45%. The Public Service Commission is also finalising the risk allowance for the doctors.

The deal saw doctors who had embarked on a three-month industrial action calling off the strike on Wednesday. Sources in the PSC told the Independent that they feared their deal with the doctors would invite the wrath of other civil servants who are demanding a 600% salary hike.

“Doctors are part of the civil service and their salary requirements are not treated separately,” said the source.

“There were genuine fears that if the monthly salaries of doctors were to skyrocket, this would inflate the public service salary structure. The only solution was to hike the allowances which differ from one sector to another,” he said.

The compromise deal is also a stop-gap measure until the newly-proposed Health Services Commission is established. The move will see the health profession severing ties with the PSC.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa said he couldn’t give the exact date when it will come into effect.

“You cannot have a date on such a thing can you?” said Parirenyatwa.

“What we know is that it has passed through cabinet and we are working through other channels,” he said.

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