Around 300 medical staff forced the closure Thursday of Botswana's biggest hospital by walking off the job in retaliation at the sacking of hundreds of colleagues who joined an ongoing strike.
The government this week fired doctors, nurses, pharmacists and cleaners who were employed in public hospitals and clinics after they joined a month-old strike by public workers in defiance of a court order.
Advertisement"Our slogan is an injury to one is an injury to all. Since the government has decided to fire our colleagues, we have also decided to join the strike and mobilise other health personnel to do the same so that hospitals are left with no doctor or nurse," said Odirile Bakae, a doctor at Princess Marina hospital.
"We have started a war which we must win and by Friday we would make sure that no service is provided in health facilities," he told local media.
Doctors from hospitals in other parts of the country have also walked off the job in a campaign threatening to hobble health care in a nation where one in four adults has HIV.
Civil servants who have not had a salary increase for the past three years are demanding a 16 percent raise.
In the latest negotiations, however, government lowered its offer from five to three percent from September, maintaining that it has no money.
Unions quickly rejected the offer.
"We don't know why they have gone down from five to three percent and we don't care, because all we want is our 16 percent," said Goretetse Kekgonegile, spokesman for the Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions.
Government was not immediately reachable for comment.
Botswana, the world's top diamond producer, was hard hit by the global economic crisis which resulted in a sharp decline of sales.
Government employees complain their buying power is shrinking in the face of inflation that hit 8.5 percent in March.