Africa

Zimbabwe doctors end strike after billionaire’s offer

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Zimbabwe’s doctors have agreed to return to work after accepting a funding offer from a billionaire, ending a prolonged strike.

The strike over pay and poor conditions lasted more than four months, paralysing the country’s healthcare sector.

Last year, Zimbabwean telecoms billionaire Strive Masiyiwa tabled an offer to break the impasse.

Mr Masiyiwa said he would set up a 100m Zimbabwean dollar ($6.25m; £4.8m) fund.

He said this fund would pay up to 2,000 doctors a subsistence allowance of about US$300 a month to help them with transport and living costs.

  • ‘My cousin died as the doctors are all on strike’

The billionaire, a private citizen who lives in the UK, will fund the doctors for six months through a fellowship programme run by his Higherlife Foundation, a charitable organisation.

What happens after that period, however, is not clear.Presentational white space

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) confirmed Mr Masiyiwa’s offer had been accepted.

“In light of the recent development, the ZHDA wants to extend its gratitude to the Higherlife Foundation for extending its offer once again to all government doctors,” the ZHDA said.

“The ZHDA is encouraging its entire membership to go and apply for the training fellowship before the stipulated deadline.”

Medics protesting protesting about the abduction of their union leader in September 2019Image copyrightAFP Image captionMedics went on strike over pay and poor working conditions

Senior and junior doctors have agreed to go back to work as part of the same deal.

Dr Tawanda Zvakada, spokesman for the ZHDA, told the BBC that doctors were “still looking for a long term solution”.

Most of the striking doctors were earning less US$100 a month, leaving them struggling to buy food or get to work.

They are demanding salary increases pegged to the US dollar to cope with triple-digit inflation stoked by Zimbabwe’s collapsing economy.

Zimbabwe is experiencing a deep economic crisis that has seen high unemployment, food shortages and rolling power blackouts.

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