Connect with us

Support The NewsHawks

PSC secretary Rosemary Choruma


Psmas: Civil servants confront govt



GOVERNMENT workers say their employer is using corruption as an excuse to facilitate the take-over and looting of Premier Medical Aid Society (Psmas), the country’s largest and oldest medical aid society whose operations have been deteriorating of late.


 Psmas’ investment arm, Premier Medical Services Investments (PSMI), has been closing some of its hospitals across the country, leaving public sector workers and other low-income members stranded in seeking medical care.

 With over 890 000 members, the worker-led medical aid group runs 126 service centres across the country’s 10 provinces that have over the past decades been providing civil servants with cheap and affordable medication.

 Many of them have been closing down since last week due to shortages of supplies and non-payment of staff. Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who doubles as Health minister, said there is no compensation to Psmas members who been inconvenienced by the abrupt closure of the medical facilities, with the funds being forfeited to the state.

 However, organisations representing public sector workers say the government has been causing the crisis and levelling the corruption claims in an attempt to take-over the medical aid society.

“As members (of Psmas), we are not worried about the issue of compensation as they are saying, because the losses we have encountered during this period when West End and Claybank (hospitals) and laboratories closed down has mainly been their fault.

“It is a man-made thing that has not been caused by corruption. It’s not corruption (in Psmas), but there are senior government officials and their cronies who are trying to grab Parkview Hospital and other entities belonging to Psmas to complete the takeover of the parastatal,” says Charles Chinosengwa, secretary-general for Zimbabwe Con federation of Public Sector Unions (ZCPTSU), an umbrella body for civil service unions.

 Chinosengwa said while Psmas has been having problems, the main one has been government officials hovering over the society.

The government through the Public Service Commission (PSC) has been plotting to seize con[1]trol of Psmas — blocking annual general meetings and Press conferences — in an attempt to create what has been described as a feeding trough for politically connected corporate raiders.

The Psmas board was dissolved in July this year.

“If you look at Public Service Commission’s (PSC) strategic plan between now and 2023, they have mentioned demutualisation of Psmas as a major goal. It is a plan that they want to find an alibi for taking the hospitals. It is not an issue of corruption in Psmas, but it is anchored on greed,” Chinosengwa said.

 ZCPSTU said the government has been with[1]holding employee contributions to Psmas, and using the same funds as a bailout package. This week, the government through the PSC injected more than ZW$4 billion into Psmas to help pay salary arrears running into months and resume full operations at its hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

PSC secretary Rosemary Choruma said the rescue package was part of broader support by the government dating back earlier this year when the medical aid society began facing viability challenges.

“Government wishes to inform all stakeholders of a bailout package … to the tune of ZW$4 258 518 459 . . . intended to resuscitate operations at the society and support PSMI, some of whose medical facilities has closed last week. This is a clear demonstration of the government’s commitment to the provision of access to health care for public servants who make up 90% of Psmas clients.”

However, Chinosengwa said the PSC’s contribution has always been the members’ money which the government has been failing to pay as per contractual agreement.

The government is entitled to paying 80% of the contribution to Psmas, while the employee contributes 20% of the medical aid fund.

 “They have not been sending employer contribution. They were just holding on to the money, then they bring it forth saying they want to bail out Psmas’ arrears. Those are not even arrears, and the money has not even been fully paid as well,” Chinosengwa said.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *