BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
CIVIL servants have accused the Public Service Commission (PSC) of plotting to take over Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).
The Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Service Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), an umbrella body for civil servants unions, yesterday claimed it had evidence that PSC was out to take control of the health insurer.
They claimed PSC wanted to return PSMAS to the Cuthbert Dube (former PSMAS chief executive) era, where senior government officials looted its coffers and almost brought it to its knees.
In a statement, ZCPSTU warned PSC to keep its hands off PSMAS.
“An interim board led by Gibson Mhlanga from the Ministry of Health led the society through an austerity programme that included restructuring and spearheaded the incorporation of strict monitoring systems to prevent a repeat of the Dube-era excesses,” ZCPSTU said.
“The PSC wants to use a combination of fanning industrial action within the organisation and its affiliated entities, using their connections within the organisations, demanding greater representation on the PSMAS board, pushing for the cancellation of the PSMAS annual general meeting (AGM) and attempting to destabilise the structures created under the 2015 interim management committee.
“The PSC, in its 2019-2025 Strategic Plan, page 41, set itself a goal to either demutualise or capacitate PSMAS. How a mutual society owned by its members finds itself in the strategic document of a government organ is baffling,” the union said, adding that this pointed to a calculated move to take over PSMAS.
Civil servants contribute 20% of the subscription fees to PSMAS, while government pays 80%.
ZCPSTU said in order to prevent PSC from assuming ownership of PSMAS, it (PSC) should now pay a medical allowance directly to members and allow them to select a service provider of their choice.
“That way, medical aid reverts to being a condition of service and not a chip to bargain for board positions with.”
Earlier, the union wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa advising him of the interference by PSC in PSMAS affairs.
“The President indicated that the matter ‘is receiving his close attention’,” the union said.
However, PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said the commission’s mandate was clearly stipulated in the Constitution and did not provide for its “take over” of anything.
“The factual position is that the government is intervening holistically to address the erosion of an important non-monetary benefit for its employees, in the form of healthcare through PSMAS membership, for which the government disburses 80% of subscriptions in respect of every employee who is a member, from public funds,” he said.
“Government is ensuring that subscriptions paid by its employees, and by the government on their behalf, are used only for the purpose for which they are paid, namely healthcare.”
Wutawunashe said government would not allow PSMAS and the Premier Service Medical Investments to collapse, adding that last week, government announced a significant financial intervention to support PSMAS’s cash flow and other supporting measures.
“Government, which has always been the major funder of PSMAS and a critical stakeholder, is taking action that guarantee the viability of the medical aid society in the best interests of its employees, their families and dependants,” he said.
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