FORMER Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) president Dr Isaac Sakala says politicians should desist from politicising issues that are affecting the doctors.
In an interview, Tuesday, Dr Sakala said it was unfortunate that politicians wanted to involve themselves in industrial issues, a stance he said was uncalled for.
“We do not entertain the interference of political parties in industrial issues, these are typically professional issues and it is uncalled for that political parties are getting involved in this matter.
It is a shame, we want political players to keep away and depoliticise these calls of justice for the doctors, it’s not a political issue and we need all politicians to stay away from it and let government officers address this issue,” Dr Sakala said.
He noted that reluctance by the government to act towards the welfare of doctors was what had led to the current crisis.
“These are the things we have been telling government for a long time. Time and time again we came out strongly telling the public there a lot of things affecting doctors and require that they are addressed. But government has been very reluctant to address these issues and it has led to what we are seeing now which is a crisis,” he said.
And Dr Sakala said there was a need for doctors in the country to be prioritised as the current situation left much to be desired.
“While government might want to use machinery to intimidate the doctors, to try to use threats and everything, I think if the government can be seen to address these issues, then they can easily be resolved.
The biggest step the doctors want to see is the government taking the first step. If the government can take the first step and pay some of these doctors, it would be a good step for resorting back to negotiating,” he said.
“There is much more that needs to be done regarding the welfare of doctors. One of the examples that can be cited is that of our colleagues in the defence wings, even before they come back from their training, money is waiting for them. But for doctors it’s a different scenario.
They are still being owed since 2010, so that itself speaks volumes. As long as there is no effort or first step taken, it will be difficult to say ‘let’s go back and negotiate’ because these calls by government to negotiate without releasing anything doesn’t sit well with the doctors because it has been the same message for years now.”