Doctors can’t be paid like tenderpreneurs

Friday February 17 2017

Striking doctors at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on February 15, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Striking doctors at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on February 15, 2017. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Doctors, being labour, cannot be paid like entrepreneurs who win tenders. They sell their skill and labour for a wage, which is delayed and paid in arrears as salary.

Salaries are generally supposed to last until the next checks in. If there is too much salary left at the end of the month, no one would see the need to push the week to the next pay packet. The world knows that salaries are not meant to make workers rich or turn them into competitors for their enterprising employers.

The expectation that doctors in Kenya should be paid on the same scale as winners of tenders, or even enough to enable them to establish their own hospitals in a year or two, is both absurd and unthinkable.

Back in June 2013, when the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union signed a deal with the government for a 300 per cent pay increase, their real intentions were not known as they are now. The union leaders took advantage of the new Jubilee government being wet behind the ears to set a political trap that would be sprung a few months to the General Election.


At the time of signing the collective bargaining agreement, the Jubilee government could not have known that the doctors were putting a noose around its neck with a view to extracting an impossible political ransom ahead of the elections.

The conduct of the doctors over the 76 days during which they have been on strike proves that they are not starving. They were never interested in the money. They wanted to bring down the government. They had to wait until the government was paying its Chinese loans for the Standard Gauge Railway to exert maximum pain by demanding to be paid in the same coin as tenderpreneurs – #LipaKamaTender.

Despite Kenya being a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, doctors have been withholding medical services from a deep receptacle of hatred. At the time of signing the CBA, the government had no idea that doctors’ union leaders were closet purveyors of ethnic hate speech. Their hatred, freely expressed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, makes them unfit to treat patients. They should be barred from wielding a scalpel because in their hands, before a “supine, powerless and unconscious patient”, it becomes a deadly weapon.


They are parading through the streets in white coats, wearing surgical masks in the face of a severe shortage – and look who they are inviting to address them at Uhuru Park. From the way the doctors have been dancing suggestively and provocatively on the streets this week, it is clear that they could not have spent much time studying diseases and how to cure them. The way they speak mouthing political statements, one is left wonder if they studied medicine or gossip.

Doctors have deluded themselves that they alone stand in the way of death, warding off its scythe sharpened for early harvests. All the while, the government knew that it is the nurses and clinical officers, the half doctors, who do the heavy lifting hold up the country’s healthcare system. In fact, if anyone deserves a 300 per cent pay rise, it is the clinicians. It is not doctors who separated conjoined twins last year. In fact, it was the nurses and clinical officers who did all the work, and the government being benign, allowed them to take the credit.

As it were, the doctor’s union officials broke their own strike by agreeing to work for the government during their time in prison for contempt of court. They have been released from their vow to boycott work by their own hands.

Any doctor who thinks they will get a shilling more from the strike had better start getting accustomed to a diet of stones.