First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name has been dragged into the vicious power struggle at beleaguered health insurer, Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), with one of the contenders for the top post allegedly using his relationship with her to manoeuvre his way to the top.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
New PSMAS managing director Henry Mandishona has allegedly set his sights on being appointed group chief executive officer and insiders told NewsDay that he has not made his relationship with President Robert Mugabe and his wife a secret.
“Mandishona wants to be group chief and will stop at nothing to land that post. When the PSMAS managing director’s job was advertised, he told those he thought would be influential that he had the backing of the First Lady, claiming he had been sent to clean-up the mess at the institution,” an impeccable source said.
“When the interviews were held, it was a forgone conclusion that a decision had already been reached to give him the job because of what he had said. Now he is locked in a power struggle with Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI) boss Farai Muchena for the top-job.”
Muchena did not hide his interest in the job. “If it is advertised, I will apply, but I am not in competition with anyone at the moment,” he said in a terse response.
But Mandishona was cagey when asked about the claims that he was using his links with the First Family to get the job. “Is it a plot or news? Who is saying that and do they have proof that I said such things? Can you come to the office with your questions? I am not interested in that job anyway,” Mandishona said.
He later provided an email to which he asked questions to be forwarded before hanging up, but had not responded by the time of going to print.
PSMAS members in May approved a new structure in which a trust will be created. The trust that will be headed by a chief executive officer or administrator will oversee the operations of both PSMAS and PSMI. The two companies will both have boards that will report to a main board in charge of the trust.
Sources said so fierce were the internal fights that Mandishona has allegedly resorted to withholding funds meant for PSMI from PSMAS.
“Workers went for three months without salaries until management at PSMI had to circumvent laid down procedures and went directly to government where they were given $5 million which they used to pay salaries and buy pharmaceuticals. Things would have gone really bad had that money not been released,” the sources said.
Muchena, while confirming PSMI had problems paying workers’ salaries, denied breaking rules. “Of course, it is not a secret that government has not been releasing funds as regularly as would be required because of obvious reasons connected to the economy.
“We have always followed procedure in all our dealings and all is above board,” he claimed.
The new PSMAS boss has reportedly teamed up with Gibson Mhlanga, a State bureaucrat called in to stabilise PSMAS following former CEO Cuthbert Dube’s departure after disclosures the Zifa boss was taking home a staggering $500 000 in salary and perks.
But Mhlanga said yesterday: “I am back at my government job and have already handed over the audit report as well as supporting documents. I do not qualify to be in that board which I believe is almost complete and they will have to choose two more people. I am not part of that process anymore.”