Hundreds of doctors marched through Harare this week to condemn the abduction of their union leader.
They said they would not return to work until Peter Magombeyi, the acting president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), was found.
The doctors believe Magombeyi was abducted by the security forces because of his role in organizing recent strike action.
A government spokesman, Nick Mangwana, denied the allegation, saying the administration had no reason to abduct Zimbabweans.
Shortly before he disappeared, Mr Magombeyi told AFP news agency he had received threatening calls and messages on his phone.
On Saturday, he sent a WhatsApp message alleging he had been kidnapped by three men. He has not been seen since.
Police say they are investigating the case. They also claimed that there is a possibility Mr Magombeyi’s disappearance was an attempt to tarnish the country’s reputation.
The labor action took place as former president Robert Mugabe was being eulogized by foreign dignitaries. A speech by South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa was interrupted by jeers, boos and whistles over the recent outbreak of xenophobic violence for which President Ramaphosa apologized.
Magombeyi had organized a series of strikes over poor pay and working conditions in recent weeks. The protesters had planned to march to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office but were prevented from doing so by riot police.
A few of the group’s leaders were allowed through the barricade so they could present a petition to the president demanding action to find Mr. Magombeyi and improve working conditions.
Some chanted “no Peter, no work” and “bring back Peter” as they made their way through the streets of the capital.
The economic crisis in Zimbabwe has meant doctors’ salaries have shrunk to just $100 a month. Many cannot afford to get to work as it costs around $80 to fill up a car with gas.
“When we go to work, it’s difficult as we lack the basics to perform effectively,” one doctor, Busi Mlambo, told AFP. “Now we don’t even feel safe in our own homes.”
“We can’t build a united nation when our doctors are underpaid [and] abducted when they raise legitimate concerns,” opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said on Twitter.
Magombeyi’s disappearance follows a spate of abductions those seen as critical of the government.
Comedian Samantha Kureya, known by her stage name Gonyeti, was abducted and beaten up in August by armed men who, she said, told her she was “too young to mock them”.
The government has denied any involvement in her abduction.
SOURCE: Global Information Network