Zimbabwe Billionaire to Pay Striking Doctors to Return to Work

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Zimbabwean state doctors have found an unlikely ally in their four-month pay strike — telecommunications tycoon Strive Masiyiwa.

The founder and majority owner of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd. has offered to pay them a Z$5,000-Z$10,000 ($290-$580) subsidy, based on seniority, for the next six months in a bid to end the strike that started in September and has crippled the southern African nation’s public health-care system.

State doctors currently receive the equivalent of $200 a month and are demanding that salaries be adjusted in line with inflation, which stood at an annual rate of 500%. The monthly rate fell to 16.6% in December and the national statistics agency stopped publishing annual data when it reached 176% in August.

The proposed payment will be made by Higherlife Foundation, the charitable organization set up by Masiyiwa and his wife Tsitsi in 1996, according to Tawanda Zvakada, the acting secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association.

The ZHDA represents about 600 members working at 1,600 government-run hospitals and clinics nationwide and “more and more doctors are now expected to return to work,” Zvakada said by phone Thursday.

Besides Econet, Masiyiwa -- whose wealth is estimated at $1.1 billion by Forbes -- also owns about half of private company Liquid Telecommunications Ltd., which provides fiber optic and satellite services across Africa. His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa.

Source: Bloomberg