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Doctors arrested after Psmas audit



A TOTAL of 25 doctors in private practice have been arrested, while many others are facing arrest, as part of investigations into the looting and plunder of government-run Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas), the police have confirmed.


The doctors were arrested for allegedly making double claims from the institution, but health practitioners say the Psmas system was in a shambles, such that they were often asked to resend claims, hence their current predicament.

Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests.

 “We can confirm the arrest of 25 doctors in relation to the investigations that are ongoing with Psmas funds. More information will be released in due course,” said Nyathi.

Scores of doctors in private practice have also been called as part of investigations.

The secretary-general of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association, Cletos Masiya, who is also under investigation, told The NewsHawks that Psmas systems were weak such that sometimes they were requested to send claims twice.

“We used to see Psmas patients like every other medical practitioner, and , because of late payments sometimes we would be asked to re-submit claims that would have been lost, specifically in the Victoria Falls area where I was operating. Sometimes Psmas would owe us a lot of money and they would pay a certain amount of money as a lumpsum and then we do reconciliations later. Sometimes they will not be having the full information and they will ask you to submit,” said Masiya.

Masiya said Psmas should have taken the civil route instead of the criminal one.

“Ideally if there is a conflict or a variance in the amounts claimed and the service offered, the medical aid company would invariably write to you and they send you what is called a reconciliation, and you reconcile that against the claims that you would have given them, against what you would have received in the bank account. If the two do not tally, either of two scenarios would unfold: you return the funds to Psmas, but because we are on a continuous service delivery, usually they are supposed to say you agree to forward the amount to your account as a credit. When you offer a service they deduct that amount. So we never received any communication from Psmas before they handed over the colleagues to the police,” he said.

 Masiya said some of the amounts being challenged were very small, hence the matter can be settled easily.

He said some of the amounts were between ZW$4 000 and ZW$200 000.

 “I used to run Chinotimba Medical Centre in 2019 and I received a call from the police investigative department notifying us of the fraud charges. They are claiming that I defrauded Psmas of ZW$4 000, which is not a lot of money even by 2019 standards,” said Masiya.

He added that he and his colleagues have incurred more costs defending themselves, compared to what they supposedly owe Psmas.

 “What is also very irritating is that, for example, for a fee of ZW$4 000 you have to get a lawyer who costs much more and the administrative costs to the police and everywhere is a lot. Even for some who have a case of ZW$200 000 and all, you can imagine how much it costs even at bank rate,” said Masiya.

 Psmas has been embroiled in looting and corruption claims, with its executives in and out of court in relation to the criminal acts of fraud. In May, board chairperson Wellington Tutisa and his deputy Cecilia Alexander appeared in court to answer to four counts of fraud involving millions of dollars.

In the same month, chief executive Farai Muchena and three of his senior subordinates also appeared in court for allegedly squandering US$702 386 which was meant for drug purchases after misrepresenting facts to Fidelity Printers in a gold deal.

Meanwhile, in Parliament last week, Health and Child Care minister Constantino Chiwenga said his ministry will bring to justice everyone who abused Psmas funds.

“Psmas is no longer closed. Psmas is open, but we made a statement and we have completed the forensic audit and the law has taken its course. We have put funds so that Psmas starts operating and they started operating properly. That is what I can say at the present moment. I do not want to discuss a lot because the law enforcement is now on the matter after the forensic audit report was completed. We are putting measures through the regulator of all the medical societies in the country,” he said.

“It is not only Psmas which was errant. All medical societies in the country have not been complying with the work which they are supposed to do or using the subscriptions from their clients properly. We are going to visit each and every one.”  

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