Buhera South Member of Parliament Joseph Chinotimba has called on legislators to forget their political differences and unite to investigate corruption at the Premier Services Medical Aid Society where the former chief executive Cuthbert Dube earned more than $500 000 a month and 11 executives pocketed $119 million in five years.
In his contribution to the motion calling on the government to bring to book those who were involved in the PSMAS scandal, Chinotimba said: “This is not a laughing matter; these are some of the issues which need to be talked about. In China, such people cannot be left scot-free. However, you will realize that anyone related to them is also affected and will be arrested because they will have had a share in the spoils of the embezzlement.
“We might fail to reason about the PSMAS issue and think that it is the government, but that is not it. As Parliamentarians, we are the government, we are the ones who build the nation. For the government to function, it is because of us in this House. We are responsible for drafting the legislation and if we are a government, we should ensure that those who embezzled funds should be arrested.
“We should unite and speak with one voice so that the people whom we represent know that they have voted for good representatives in Parliament, particularly for those people who are subscribing to PSMAS.”
Chinotimba said from the way Dube had looted PSMAS, he could have done the same at the Zimbabwe Football Association where he was the president.
“I do not think he only embezzled funds from PSMAS but also from the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) where he was. The same person has done this and we have kept quiet,” he said.
“What I have raised is that we need to show the world that as Hon Members, when we start an issue that will build the country, we unite without being partisan, either as ZANU-PF or MDC. This is what builds a nation. Normally, when issues are raised we behave like children but this is not a minor issue. We need to work together.”
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Hon. Speaker. Let me start by thanking Hon. Cross for the motion that he has brought forward on PSMAS. In as far as I am concerned, what I see in this House is that all people are in agreement concerning this issue. Normally we disagree on issues in this House but today, the PSMAS issue is a painful issue and has united us. In my opinion, the issue that is being debated in this House is very pertinent. There was an audit that was carried out and up to this day, it has not been made public, it is being kept a secret. Mr. Speaker Sir, in my opinion, Hon. Cross seems to have come across the forensic audit. I came across this forensic audit and it is quite lengthy. I read it and realised that the things in the report cannot be kept a secret. The moment we keep quiet about it shows that as the people of Zimbabwe, we are insane. If we are sane, I do not think we will be quiet about it.
Madam Speaker, what I am saying right now is that, the PSMAS workers, from the doctors’ right through to the lowest paid, have not been given their salaries for the past six months. However, someone was earning US$500 000. If that money was channeled towards the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), we would say that they were doing it for food security purposes not for their own selfish benefits. I do not think he only embezzled funds from PSMAS but also from the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) where he was. The same person has done this and we have kept quiet.
We asked when we were at the Budget Seminar in Victoria Falls how this issue is being handled and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development said that PSMAS is a stand-alone company. We asked at what point Ministers get involved. We want to expose the truth that, if PSMAS is an independent company, how did the Ministers get involved, the Board was nominated by the Minister. Probably we can be updated by the former Deputy Minister, who is now a back-bencher on how this used to operate.
This is not a laughing matter; these are some of the issues which need to be talked about. In China, such people cannot be left scot-free. However, you will realize that anyone related to them is also affected and will be arrested because they will have had a share in the spoils of the embezzlement. We might fail to reason about the PSMAS issue and think that it is the Government, but that is not it. As Parliamentarians, we are the Government, we are the ones who build the nation. For the Government to function, it is because of us in this House. We are responsible for drafting the legislation and if we are a Government, we should ensure that those who embezzled funds should be arrested.
We should unite and speak with one voice so that the people whom we represent know that they have voted for good representatives in Parliament, particularly for those people who are subscribing to PSMAS. It is painful that you cannot even get eye ointment from PSMAS. It is even difficult for children to be attended to, but we are seated here watching while subscriptions are being deducted without any service rendered.
We need to look at issues that affect the nation. Other countries will mock us and we become a laughing stock if we fail to deal with this issue. For us to be called a nation, we need to stamp out corruption. If we let those involved in corruption scot-free, then we are not doing anything. We should not sit back and relax. I think that as Hon. Members, we need to show that we are powerful and we are Members of Parliament elected by the people.
What surprises me is that, one day I asked where the reports that are brought in here finally go to and I heard you as the Chairperson say that it is given to the Ministers concerned. You cannot get the Minister concerned to act because he is also part of the corruption team, that will never happen. The important issue here is that the PSMAS issue does not require us to disagree. It is not about party affiliation, it is an issue that affects the nation at large.
The nation can borrow if there is no money in the national fiscus for acquiring certain goods and services. The nation can borrow money from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and other parastatals. However, if PSMAS becomes personally owned and cannot serve the people, I do not think that is correct. The Hon. Members who moved this debate are right.
I do not think it is a challenge for the Ministers concerned to come here and update us and enlighten us on what is happening. We have become fools before the nation because of one person. Those Ministers should come and explain. Mr. Speaker Sir, as the Speaker, you have powers to summon them. We used to mourn that Ministers were not coming to Parliament, but you have told us that they are now coming. Is there any problem in summoning the Ministers to come and explain to us what was happening? Is it a problem for him to explain what the board members were doing? Is it a problem for them to explain if we say no one is above board except the President? What then can stop these people to come into this House and enlighten us on what is happening? If they refuse, then they should be brought to book.
What I am saying is that, these people must be arrested. Property should be attached, they bought buses, houses and even properties in South Africa. Let us engage investigators who will investigate these issues. In this Parliament, we once said that we need to have our own anti-corruption commission and we were denied the privilege and told that there is an Anti-Corruption Commission in place. However, up to this day, it is not functioning, nothing has been said, they are just quiet.
What I am saying is that, I am not happy at all. It is difficult for me to go to my constituents and explain to them on what is happening, particularly the teachers. It is difficult because if they go to Birchenough Hospital, they are told that their medical aid is not valid and yet medical subscriptions are being deducted on a monthly basis.
The money that is deducted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is a challenge because it is not being remitted on time. If the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development was remitting these subscriptions on time, probably there would not be any debts. Now that we have realized it, we know that we cannot sit in boards, but let us find people who are Members of Parliament like me who will go and investigate. We have those from the labour, they are here. We do not want our employees to suffer, we have Hon. Mashakada, Hon. Mpariwa and myself, who were there in the labour unions, I do not know what they looked at.
I do not have much to say. Even at a funeral people do laugh. So let us talk about this. As we talk, we are not saying they witnessed corruption but the question is, how did it happen during your time? We are not saying that they did it. We want proof from them if ever they witnessed such cases. This issue Mr. Speaker…
THE HON DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, it is Madam Speaker.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I heard Hon. Chombo referring to a female village head as “headman”.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Member, you cannot compare Madam Speaker with a headman – [Laughter] – Hon Member, can you please withdraw that statement. You have been talking of the strength of Parliament and there is a Presiding Officer presiding over all those Members of Parliament. If you compare that Presiding Officer with a headman, I think you are out of order. Can you please withdraw that statement?
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: I withdraw my statement Madam Speaker. I do not have much to say now. What I have raised is that we need to show the world that as Hon Members, when we start an issue that will build the country, we unite without being partisan, either as ZANU-PF or MDC. This is what builds a nation. Normally, when issues are raised we behave like children but this is not a minor issue. We need to work together. With these few words, I thank you Madam Speaker.