WITH the wild-cat strike by doctors and other essential service staff going into its third day, there were indications that the government and other institutions owing the health insurer, Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), had paid varying amounts by end of day yesterday.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Impeccable sources told NewsDay that the government, the Salary Services Bureau and power utility Zesa had transferred funds to PSMAS.
“The Zesa amount has already reflected in the PSMAS account, while we are still waiting to verify the other amounts,” a PSMAS insider told NewsDay.
PSMAS subsidiary, Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI), was early this week thrown into chaos after most of its staff embarked on strike over unpaid salaries dating back to five months. The industrial action, according to the government workers’ representatives, has caused untold suffering to members of the society.
PSMAS board chairperson Jeremiah Bvirindi was optimistic, but non-committal.
“Like I said before, we hope by the end of the week we would have been paid some money in order to take care of the issues at hand.
“I am actually on my way to PSMAS for an update and I hope in the next three hours I will have some answers. We are very optimistic, positive, in fact, that government will pay,” Bvirindi said.
“There is a commitment from them and most often when there is (a commitment), we have not been let down. Our only problem is that we have not been paid by our debtors, otherwise we would not have this situation.”
The government reportedly owes PSMAS $44 million.
Meanwhile, Hospital Doctors’ Association president Fortune Nyamande said the situation at PSMAS called for sober reflection, adding “hard choices need to be made”.
Nyamande tore into Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa.
“The PSMAS drama, if it remains ignored, has potentially catastrophic complications so grave than most natural and man-made health disasters. Is it palatable that these hardworking doctors at various PSMI facilities dotted around the country have gone for so long without remuneration when the same company affords the luxury of hefty advances to the Health minister?” Nyamande queried.
Parirenyatwa was reportedly paid by PSMAS a staggering $100 000 as “capitation fees” way beyond what he was owed.
Nyamande added that the failure to address the rot at PSMAS with the urgency it deserved was “a clear indicator that the two relevant line ministers either lack capacity to address the challenges or they are part of the problems at PSMAS”.
Nyamande said the conduct of some top government officials allegedly interfering in the operations of PSMAS could “soil the country’s image ahead of the International Conference of Aids and STIs in Africa set for next week.