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Striking Zimbabwe doctors defy order to resume work2 minutes read

Doctors striking in Zimbabwe for pay hikes defied a government order to resume work on Monday

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Doctors striking in Zimbabwe for pay hikes defied a government order to resume work on Monday and asked the UN and private businesses to help fund their return to the wards. 

The doctors are in the second month of a strike over salaries which have dwindled to  less than $100 per month in some cases as a result of galloping inflation.

They say their pay has lost value by at least 1,500 percent.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said they have used up their savings by “subsidising the employer” for them to just report for work.

Negotiations with the government have been deadlocked as the doctors rejected a 60 percent pay increase and demanded their salaries be pegged to the US dollar.

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo at the weekend ordered the medics to return to work, warning them with unspecified disciplinary action if they did not comply.

The government has adopted a ham-fisted response to the strike, now in its 34th day. 

Last month, police tried to stop the doctors from marching to parliament, until a court allowed the protest.

The leader of the doctors’ union Peter Magombeyi was last month abducted by suspected federal agents, only to be released five days later after pressure from his colleagues. 

The government tried to block him from travelling to neighbouring South Africa for treatment after local doctors recommended further medical assessment.

He was only allowed to leave following another court order.

The striking doctors have appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO), local businesses, churches and NGOs to help raise funding to supplement their wages.

“Lives are being lost and there is a need to urgently raise resources to supplement… the salaries of 1,800 government-employed doctors,” they said.

Read Also: Court rules Zimbabwe doctor free to travel abroad after kidnapping

Should the UN heed the doctors’ call, it will not be the first time it has supported health personnel in the crisis-ridden country.

UNICEF ran a so-called Health Transition Fund, a multi-donor pooled fund for four years from 2011, paying out allowances to augment medical practitioners’ salaries.

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UN condemns use of IEDs against civilians in Libya

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians…,” the UN said.

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A man inspects the wreckage of a car outside the Khadra General Hospital which is dedicated to treating people infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Libyan capital Tripoli on April 8, 2020, after it was targeted by forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by Mahmud TURKIA / AFP)

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has condemned the use of improvised explosive devices against civilians in the southern part of Tripoli, as the armed conflict between the east-based army and the UN-backed government continues.

UNSMIL “is extremely concerned about reports that residents of the Ain Zara and Salahuddin areas of Tripoli have been killed or wounded by improvised explosive devices placed in or near their homes,” UNSMIL said in a statement Monday.

“UNSMIL strongly condemns these acts, which serve no military objective, provoke extreme fear among the population, and violate the rights of innocent civilians who must be protected under international humanitarian law,” the statement said.

UNSMIL called on all individuals to “seek information and heed security advice to stay away from areas that have not been declared safe to enter by a competent authority or items of unknown origin which may be explosive devices”.

UNSMIL also commended the search and clearance work by Libyan Police and Military Engineers, reaffirming its continued support to Libyan partners, communities, and stakeholders “who are working tirelessly to rid Libya of the threat of explosive remnant of war (ERW)”.

The UN-backed government’s forces accused the rival east-based army of planting mines before withdrawing from conflict areas in southern Tripoli.

Since April 2019, the east-based army has been leading a military campaign attempting to take over Tripoli and topple the UN-backed government.

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Strike looms as public sector wage dispute enters arbitration in South Africa

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The ongoing face-off between workers in the public sector and the South African government continues. According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), disagreement between the trade unions and government has moved the talks to arbitration for further hearing.

PSCBC General Secretary, Frikkie De Bruin explains that the arbitration hearings will begin by mid-June. An arbitrator will issue an award after the hearings are complete, with the matter potentially heading to court or resulting in a strike if the unions aren’t happy.

Ordinarily, public sector workers make up a third of South Africa’s expenditure. But with the coronavirus lockdown and income reduction, Pretoria seems unwilling to incur more debt.

If not handled carefully to appease the workers, the ruling African National Congress, (ANC) could lose its political dominance in the next local elections.

If no resolution is reached and the workers decide to resolve it an industrial action, it could erode all effort made by the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

The dispute started in February when the government affirmed that it could not fulfil its 2018 agreement on a three-year wage agreement.

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Ethiopia to divest 40% of Ethio Telecom

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The Ethiopian government is finalizing plans to sell a 40 percent stake in Ethio Telecom- the country’s sole telecommunication provider . The plan was announced by Ethiopia’s State Minister of Finance, Eyob Tekalign Tolina.

Ethiopia’s telecommunication industry is considered one of the last closed markets. It has been one of the government’s plans to liberalize the country’s economy launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ethio Telecom has a large market serving a population of around 110 million.

The government will retain ownership of the remaining 60 percent.

Foreign firms in the telecom sector will be invited to bid and a percentage of the minority stake will be sold to Ethiopian citizens. South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom have shown interest in expanding into Ethiopia in the past.

Ethiopia’s communications regulator says the country would proceed with the privatisation of the telecommunications sector despite the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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