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‘We’re facing death threats’ – Zimbabwe’s striking doctors

Striking doctors in Zimbabwe say they are being threatened with death by suspected state security agents.

“Both nurses and doctors are regularly being told that resisting what the government offers them will result in their death,” the doctors said in a petition to parliament.

Wednesday’s petition came after police blocked a second protest march by the striking doctors over the disappearance of their union leader.

Peter Magombeyi, president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), has been missing since Saturday night.

Mr. Magombeyi, and one other disappeared individual, had been at the forefront of the strike to demand higher wages for state doctors.

The ZHDA represents junior and middle level doctors at public hospitals in the country.

State security minister Owen Ncube said in a statement on Wednesday that the government was treating Mr. Magombeyi’s case as a disappearance and not an abduction as alleged by the ZHDA.

He said the timing of the ZHDA’s leader’s disappearance, notably when a UN special rapporteur on human rights was visiting Zimbabwe, pointed to work by some people bent on tarnishing the country’s image.

Dozens of riot police blocked more than 200 doctors on Wednesday as they marched to parliament to present their petition, as many of the strikers  chanted “no Peter, no work”.

Two years after the military installed President Emmerson Mnangagwa in power, Zimbabweans are still facing triple-digit inflation that has eroded salaries and caused shortages of basic goods, such as fuel and electricity.

Human rights groups say they have recorded more than twenty cases of abductions of opposition activists by security operatives since January. But the government has continued to deny any involvement in the alleged kidnappings.

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