Health and Child Care minister, David Parirenyatwa is widely seen as one of the sensible and level-headed ministers in President Robert Mugabe’s government, but on the Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) issue, we are afraid he has dug himself into a hole he may fail to climb out from.
While Parirenyatwa may claim he acted in the best interests of a major shareholder, government, in the court of public opinion, it seems he has been caught with his fingers in the till and the vultures are already circling.
It is disturbing that Parirenyatwa ordered the reinstatement of PSMAS boss Henry Mandishona, despite the disciplinary procedures against him.
In this regard, the minister comes at out as someone who is contemptuous of due process and who rides roughshod over accountability processes and in so doing he has forever tarnished his image.
To make matters worse, Parirenyatwa also received $100 000 from PSMAS, which he says is normal in the medical fraternity, a process called capitation.
With the level of indebtedness PSMAS is in, it does not make sense for the society to pay doctors and other medical practitioners in advance and it raises pertinent questions on why they saw it fit to pay Parirenyatwa.
There is an obvious conflict of interest here; Parirenyatwa is supposed to play an oversight role, supervising PSMAS, yet he seems to be ignoring disciplinary processes to reinstate the head of the society, who, in the first place, approved the minister’s $100 000 payout.
In all fairness, maybe there is nothing untoward about the payment and Parirenyatwa may have been well-meaning when he ordered Mandishona’s reinstatement, but at this point, the ordinary Zimbabwean begins to smell a rat.
In the interests of accountability and transparency, Parirenyatwa should have been advised to stay away, receive a report on the disciplinary procedure and then act from there.
But the ill-advised decision to act pre-emptively has not done Parirenyatwa’s stature any good and he is now advised to immediately recuse himself and allow the board to act without any further interference.
As it is, it looks like Parirenyatwa unduly benefited from PSMAS and adds to the coterie of government officials who have received questionable payments from the society.
Recently, it was revealed that Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, was paid $228 000 by PSMAS at a time he claimed he was the least-paid board member, but a forensic audit has revealed that he was one of the most handsomely rewarded.
Thus, to the ordinary Zimbabwean it seems government officials are interfering and involved in the running of
PSMAS affairs because they want to keep benefiting from it and treating it like their personal piggy bank.
Parirenyatwa is certainly not among the worst ministers, but his image has been sullied and it is in his best interests to take a backseat from this issue and allow due process to take place.
There have been calls for him to resign, but before we join that bandwagon, we urge Parirenyatwa to explain himself, why he interfered, pay back the money and stop interfering in PSMAS issues.
Mugabe’s ministers hardly resign even in the face of accusations of corruption and it will take the most optimistic person to think Parirenyatwa would resign.
But if he does not explain himself, we urge those that have been calling for his resignation to amplify their voices and if the minister has to fall on his sword, then he must.