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Parliament Says Entire PSMAS Board Must Go

Parliament’s Health portfolio says the entire Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) board must be fired and prosecuted together with chief executive officer Cuthbert Dube, who was forced to resign Monday for allegedly abusing public funds.

The board is also alleged to have awarded obscene salaries to top management in public servants’ medical aid group at the expense of ordinary poor members.

Chairperson Ruth Labode said the committee is worried by the Health Ministry’s silence on the PSMAS issue, adding that forcing Dube into retirement and firing board chairperson, Meise Makeletso Namasasu, is not enough.

The PSMAS board announced Monday it had retired Dube and fired Namasasu following reports of outrageous salaries being earned by top management at PSMAS with Dube earning a $230,000 basic salary while the company was failing to pay creditors. The wage bill for less than 15 senior managers gobbled at least $1 million a month.

The committee, Labode said, is worried PSMAS members are facing challenges in accessing medical care due to PSMAS’ failure to pay suppliers while paying executives hefty salaries.

Apart from prosecution, Labode, who was accompanied by colleagues from the health committee, said parliament wants further action against the board members and Dube.

She said it was surprising that the outgoing PSMAS board chairperson, Namasasu, who is a senior official in the Finance Ministry, could preside over such immoral salary scales at PSMAS.

Some of the civil servants in the PSMAS board are Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary, Constance Chigwamba, Media Information and Broadcasting permanent secretary and presidential spokesman, George Charamba and George Chabururuka, who is the finance and administration director in the Higher Education Ministry.

The committee called for what it called a forensic audit into the handling of PSMAS funds and donations that were made to various organizations such as the Zimbabwe Football Association.

A member of the committee, Aldrin Musiiwa, said given the scandal and poor service delivery at PSMAS it’s time public servants considered moving to other companies.
Thousands of public servants under PSMAS have been failing to access medical services as PSMAS owes service providers and other suppliers more than $38 million.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa or his deputy Paul Chimedza could not be reached for comment. Parirenyatwa has previously said his ministry is looking into the issue but has not given any details.

Earlier the health services board, which is the employer of all public health workers, told the committee that the government must expand the Health Ministry’s staff establishment so it can cope with its constitutional requirement providing health to all.
Board chairperson Lovemore Mbengeranwa told the committee Zimbabwe’s health staffing levels are way below the required staffing norms.

The ministry currently employs 36,900 people and this includes supporting staff. At least 10,000 posts are currently open with the government maintaining its 2010 freeze on recruitment due to lack of funds.

Mbengeranwa said though there has been an improvement in the staffing levels for nurses, the situation is dire in other professions such as specialists where there is a 66 percent vacancy rate, pharmacists 60 percent and doctors 33 percent vacancy rate.