PUBLIC Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) doctors went on a strike Monday over unpaid salaries, forcing the closure of the struggling government-owned health insurer’s clinics in Harare.
The doctors said they were willing to be patient as management told them there was no money, but were angered by PSMAS’ decision to pay health minister David Parirenyatwa $100,000.
Parirenyatwa, a medical doctor, was reportedly paid $100,000 for treating PSMAS members when he was actually owed just $23,000 for the work.
NewZimbabwe.com visited West End Hospital and the Fourth Street clinic and found the two health care facilities had, by mid-day, suspended operations.
The doctors had petitioned PSMAS management, seeking an immediate meeting over unpaid salaries.
“We have collectively decided that we cannot continue to work in the absence of payment for work from previous months,” read part of the petition seen by NewZimbabwe.com.
“We have made previous communication on this matter and have been promised payments which, until now, have not materialized and any move towards payment of our salaries will promptly encourage us to get back to work as zealously as we have always done.”
Salaries last paid in June
PSMAS pharmacists and laboratory technicians have also indicated that they will soon join their colleagues since they are also affected by the non-payment of salaries.
Doctors who spoke to Newzimbabwe.com said they were last paid in June.
“We last got salaries in June and, since then, they (management) have been telling us that they are doing something,” said one doctor at West End hospital who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation.
“We had no problem with them delaying to pay us, but we became worried when we learnt that PSMAS was awarding the Heath Minister $100,000 when, to us, it was saying it’s struggling hence the strike.
“We believe that if they press Parirenyatwa to return the $100,000 he robbed the health institution we will all get our salaries,” said another doctor NewZimbabwe.com talked to at PSMAS hospital’s Fourth Street branch.
Mavis Gumbo, PSMAS public relations manager, could not be reached for comment as her mobile phone was not reachable.
Management at PSMAS has been accused of siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the struggling parastatal which owes millions to service providers.
Top officials accused of corruption at PSMAS include President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba, who is said to have collected more than $200,000 in allowances for attending board meetings. – NewZim