The government yesterday said the Health and Social Welfare minister Dr Hadji Mponda was not responsible for any problems the doctors may be facing and that demands for his resignation were wrong.
Stating the government position, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the demand for the Ministers to resign within 72 hours was not part of the doctors’ original demands and did not make sense. Even President Kikwete was not in support of it, he said.
The Premier’s statement followed the doctors’ ultimatum to the government to sack minister Mponda and his Deputy Lucy Nkya or else they would resume the strike.
He said the doctors’ problems started long before the current Health Minister’s appointment, adding that Dr Mponda has been in the Ministry for only one year.
However the doctors yesterday maintained that they will go on strike effective today unless the government changes its stance on their demands.
Pinda declined to state action which the government will take if the doctors resume the strike, describing the doctors’ ultimatum as a threat.
He wondered why the doctors were giving the government such a condition before starting the negotiations to solve their problems.
He said the new demand has affected the talks between the two parties which had been proceeding well.
“I have played my role to advise the President on the doctors’ demand, but he as well doesn’t understand,” Pinda said.
He called upon the doctors to call off their planned strike and instead use proper ways to solve the problem.
Pinda said the doctors’ strike will affect patients and not the government urging them to continue working while their demands were being addressed.
“I request the doctors not to sacrifice other people’s lives to get what they want…I believe they will be wise and cancel their strike,” he insisted.
Reacting, Medical Association of Tanzania President Namala Mkopi accused the government of not abiding by ethics in executing its duties.
“The government does not hold accountable leaders when they commit mistakes,” Namala said.
In another development, human rights activists threatened to mobilise the pubic to demonstrate if the government fails to fulfill the doctors’ demands by today.
Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday the activists said it was a shame on the government to allow another doctors’ strike to take place.
“This is jeopardising people’s lives. We want it to do something by today to stop doctors from striking again. If not, we’ll know what to do,” said Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba the Director of Legal Human Rights Centre (LHRC).
She said the government has failed to show concern in implementing their demands for almost a month now.
Kijo-Bisimba added that of all agreements between doctors and the government, the government has only succeeded to suspend the Ministry’s permanent secretary Blandina Nyoni and Chief Medical Officer Deo Mtasiwa leaving out the Minister of Health and Social Welfare Dr Haji Mponda and His deputy Dr Lucy Nkya.
For her part, acting director of TGNP Lilian Liundi called upon President Jakaya Kikwete to immediately work on Tanzanians’ complaints by improving health services and doctors’ working situation.
Last week, medical practitioners in public hospitals gave a three-day ultimatum to the president to sack the Health and Social Welfare minister, Dr Haji Mponda and his deputy, Dr Lucy Nkya or else they would resume striking today.
The doctors issued the ultimatum as their main condition that should be implemented before starting any negotiation with the government.
The doctors’ committee which met last Friday requested the President to sack the minister and his deputy because their presence in the ministry amounts to guaranteeing the lack of implementation of the pact entered with the government.
The doctors also demand improvement of their working conditions and availability of working tools and drugs.
They demanded salary increment from the current 957,700/- per month to between 3.5m/- and 7m/-.
The doctors also want the negotiated agreement signed and immediately implemented as agreed.