Majome calls on Mugabe spokesman George Charamba to resign over PSMAS scandal, raps Prosecutor-General for not doing his job


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Harare West Member of Parliament Jessie Majome has called on the Secretary for Information, George Charamba, who is also the government and President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman, to resign over his role in the Premier Services Medical Aid Society scandal.

She also rapped Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana for not using his powers to bring criminals to book and accused him of protecting them instead. Tomana, she said, should also resign if he was not up to his job.

In her contribution to the motion on the PSMAS scandal, Majome said Charamba, who was one of the board members at PSMAS, should not wait for the long arm of the law since he had already admitted receiving hefty amounts of money from the medical aid society, but should do the honourable thing and resign.

“The values that Zimbabweans say they want to be governed by are the rule of law itself and where in the world do you have a society that says it respects the rule of law where people steal in broad day light. They steal in the name of the government and from government offices and they are allowed to go scot free. Unfortunately Madam Speaker, some of them are the chief spokespersons of the government itself and this is no secret,” Majome said.

“The Secretary of the Ministry of Information who usually speaks on behalf of the government did himself openly admit to the media that yes indeed he took unholy amounts of allowances from the Premier Services Medical Aid Society. He surrendered himself and said he is willing to face the music if and when the music is ever played on him but up to now, no such music has been played.

“When I think about officials like that, my question to them is that; why are you waiting for the long arm of the law to catch up with you when you yourself admitted in public that you did something wrong and you know that you did something wrong. You know that you have pilfered from the public pocket – do the honourable thing and just resign.”

Majome said Charamba should also pay back the money he was paid.

“Let us indeed resolve on this motion and make sure that all those people who pilfered this money do face their fate but as I said, let them resign because Mr. George Charamba publicly admitted in the media that he got undue allowances.

“So, I want to appeal to him Madam Speaker, through you to do two things: 1) let him pay back that money that he took. He should not wait for taxpayers’ money again to be wasted in hauling him before the courts. 2) Let him also resign because it does not augur well for a nation where you have people speaking on behalf of the Government but who themselves are in the frontline of taking away from poor civil servants who contribute their money, drip by drip and those companies in the private sector who are also working in very difficult circumstances but are contributing to this society.”

Charamba was paid just over $228 000 between 2009 and 2013 in board fees starting from $4 875 in 2009 when civil servants were paid $100 a month to $109  897 in 2013.

The highest paid board member was George Chabururuka, another civil servant, who walked away with $558 163.

Eleven top executives of PSMAS were paid about $119 million during the same period.

Majome said the Prosecutor –General should do his job instead of protecting wrong-doers and if he is not able to, he too should resign.

“We definitely need an appetite for law enforcement in the office that is responsible for enforcing crime because it is no wonder that the Cashbed Dubes and their accomplices are roaming free because there does not appear to be appetite at all in the Prosecutor General’s office to catch up with and to bring to book all those people concerned. We need to see a change,” she said.

“There needs to be public confidence in that and it is my hope that the Public Prosecutor demonstrates that he does have an appetite to do the work that Zimbabweans repose trust in him to do because if he does not have the appetite, the honourable thing is for him to resign. There are so many lawyers who are experienced who are able to do this work so that there be an appointed person in that office who leads that office, who shows that they are willing and able and they are unflinching at the sight of crime that they will prosecute. It does not matter whether it is a Member of Parliament or a high ranking person that they will indeed prosecute…..

“Madam Speaker, I just want to draw the august House’s attention to the immense power that the Prosecutor General’s Office has in terms of the Constitution. In terms of Section 259(1), the Prosecutor General may actually direct the Commissioner General of Police to investigate or to report anything which in the Prosecutor General’s Office relates to an offence or an alleged offence or a suspected offence.

“Madam Speaker the offences here are clear. The alleged ones are clear and the suspected ones are clear. If the Prosecutor General is exercising his mind in a rational manner and in good faith, I cannot imagine why his opinion would not cause him to want to order the Commissioner General.

“Madam Speaker, the Constitution provides that when the Prosecutor General directs the Commissioner General to investigate in particular cases like this, it specifically provides that the Commissioner General has no option but to comply. That is immense power Madam Speaker. It is power to cause the police to police. It is to police the police themselves. It provides that the Prosecutor General must actually proceed to do so. It says that the Commissioner General of Police must comply with that direction. It is my hope that the Prosecutor General will indeed give that direction to the Commissioner General because the Commissioner General is going to comply because the Constitution requires him to do so.”

 

Full contribution:

 

 

HON. MAJOME: I thank you Madam Speaker for this opportunity to debate this very important motion. I want to begin by also joining other Hon. Members before me who have paid the fitting recognition to Hon. Cross, for moving such a heart rending and critical motion that affects the lives and deaths of the multitudes of millions of members of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society who are mainly in the public sector but also in the private sector.

I want to whole heartedly throw myself in support behind this very noble motion and indeed, it is very specific prayers of the specific action that must now finally be taken to address this very embarrassing – I cannot find a suitable word Madam Speaker. This blemish on us as Zimbabweans that for years, it is more than a year or two years now since the very shocking and horrific levels of self payment by officials at the Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) have been paying themselves. Even songs have been composed and stand-up comedians had a field day of describing the exploits of what they have called Cashbed Dube. Radio DJs and stations continue to talk about this but we have been talking about this for years now and Zimbabweans have been laughing about it. I think it is because they expect Parliament to finally move this motion to cause the Executive to take action and stop this very terrible thing.

Madam Speaker, we were in Victoria Falls a few weeks ago for the Pre-budget Seminar. The Hon. Speaker exhorted us, as well as the theme of the Conference and also even the Minister of Finance and Economic Development. They gave us a lot of work to do and they also gave us very difficult homework of how to grow the national cake. We can talk as much as we want about creating conditions for attracting foreign direct investment but also even to allow those Zimbabweans who are here in the country and have money that they are sitting on to release it into the productive sector. We can talk about it but as long as we do not take serious steps as a nation to stop corruption but we allow the most horrific forms of theft to go on against the public, then no one will take us seriously. No one will take Zimbabwe as a destination that is worth investing their money in because it will only show that we are not serious as a nation in; firstly safeguarding the little money that we have, we do not value our human capital and we also are not serious about safeguarding the property of others and making sure that it is not stolen.

Madam Speaker, the issue of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society is one that anyone all over the world can look at and say Zimbabwe is one of the most corrupt places in the world. They will be justified to say so because if there is such corruption that is nauseating and choking people and nothing is done about it; the perpetrators themselves are actually celebrating as was said by other hon. members before me. Madam Speaker, Zimbabwe will continue scoring the dubious distinction of ranking highest on the most corrupt nations in the world because we are not taking the measures that we should take and we should start to do so now.

I want to say that I am in support of this motion and the action itself that must be taken. I want to just maybe dwell on the particular action that the mover of the motion, Hon. Eddie Cross wants to do. As I indicated Madam Speaker, I am throwing myself whole heartedly in support of his particular prayer. I cannot avoid talking about the Constitution because that is the best instrument that we have in this country for enforcing the law as well as combating corruption. In this particular case of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society, the failure of the Executive arm of Government to reign in these very rotten apples that we have is a symptom of general disregard of the provisions of our Constitution. It appears that while Zimbabweans voted for this Constitution in record numbers by 97% in the Referendum, it does not look like we actually share the founding values that are enshrined in this Constitution. Those founding values that the people of Zimbabwe themselves say they want to be governed by, if we look at those, there is no space whatsoever for corruption of any kind but also for this kind of crime. The values that Zimbabweans say they want to be governed by, are the rule of law itself and where in the world do you have a society that says it respects the rule of law where people steal in broad day light. They steal in the name of the Government and from Government offices and they are allowed to go scot free. Unfortunately Madam Speaker, some of them are the chief spokespersons of the Government itself and this is no secret.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Information who usually speaks on behalf of the Government did himself openly admit to the media that yes indeed he took unholy amounts of allowances from the Premier Services Medical Aid Society. He surrendered himself and said he is willing to face the music if and when the music is ever played on him but up to now, no such music has been played. When I think about officials like that, my question to them is that; why are you waiting for the long arm of the law to catch up with you when you yourself admitted in public that you did something wrong and you know that you did something wrong. You know that you have pilfered from the public pocket – do the honourable thing and just resign. So Madam Speaker, as I debate this motion, I am making an appeal to all those people who are fingered in the report of the Auditor-General and Madam Speaker, allow me to take my hat off and pay homage to our Auditor-General Madam Chiri, for relentlessly and without fear or favour continuing to expose this kind of rot that is bedeviling our society. It makes me proud as a woman of Zimbabwe that one of us is unflinching in the face of duty and is unflinching in the face of danger, but we must not let her down. I think that the motion by Hon. Cross allows us to, finally as Parliament do something about those reports and the sordid revelations that she makes day in day out. Let us reward such diligence and such hard work with results.

Let us indeed resolve on this motion and make sure that all those people who pilfered this money do face their fate but as I said, let them resign because Mr. George Charamba publicly admitted in the media that he got undue allowances. So, I want to appeal to him Madam Speaker, through you to do two things: 1) let him pay back that money that he took. He should not wait for taxpayers’ money again to be wasted in hauling him before the courts. 2) Let him also resign because it does not augur well for a nation where you have people speaking on behalf of the Government but who themselves are in the frontline of taking away from poor civil servants who contribute their money, drip by drip and those companies in the private sector who are also working in very difficult circumstances but are contributing to this society.

Madam Speaker, allow me to speak on the prayer itself of the motion. The first thing that Hon. Eddie Cross prays for, is that we implore on the Executive to take measures for the prosecution of all those who benefitted from the scandal. He could not have said it better. I cannot help but feel a little bit pessimistic because if we are to ensure that those who pilfered and those who got these gains in an ill way are prosecuted, I am not very confident that that prosecution is to be done. For that to be done, we need the Prosecutor-General’s office to rise up to the occasion and rise to the level that is required by this Constitution. I worry because just a few weeks ago, there was a very big hullabaloo in the press about the Prosecutor-General himself, who is appointed in terms of Chapter 13 of the Constitution. He should be the person who is like, in those comics is the super hero who must swoop down and kick out all the bad guys out of town. Unfortunately, just a few weeks ago, the media was hogged by stories that he was actually refusing to prosecute certain people who are suspected of committing crimes. Instead of acting as the chief public protector from crime, he was acting as the chief protector of people who are suspected of committing crime.

Madam Speaker, we definitely need an appetite for law enforcement in the office that is responsible for enforcing crime because it is no wonder that the Cashbed Dubes and their accomplices are roaming free because there does not appear to be appetite at all in the Prosecutor General’s office to catch up with and to bring to book all those people concerned. We need to see a change. There needs to be public confidence in that and it is my hope that the Public Prosecutor demonstrates that he does have an appetite to do the work that Zimbabweans repose trust in him to do because if he does not have the appetite, the honourable thing is for him to resign. There are so many lawyers who are experienced who are able to do this work so that there be an appointed person in that office who leads that office, who shows that they are willing and able and they are unflinching at the sight of crime that they will prosecute. It does not matter whether it is a Member of Parliament or a high ranking person that they will indeed prosecute.

Madam Speaker, I just want to draw the august House’s attention to the immense power that the Prosecutor General’s Office has in terms of the Constitution. In terms of Section 259(1), the Prosecutor General may actually direct the Commissioner General of Police to investigate or to report anything which in the Prosecutor General’s Office relates to an offence or an alleged offence or a suspected offence. Madam Speaker the offences here are clear. The alleged ones are clear and the suspected ones are clear. If the Prosecutor General is exercising his mind in a rational manner and in good fail, I cannot imagine why his opinion would not cause him to want to order the Commissioner General.

Madam Speaker, the Constitution provides that when the Prosecutor General directs the Commissioner General to investigate in particular cases like this, it specifically provides that the Commissioner General has no option but to comply. That is immense power Madam Speaker. It is power to cause the police to police. It is to police the police themselves. It provides that the Prosecutor General must actually proceed to do so. It says that the Commissioner General of Police must comply with that direction. It is my hope that the Prosecutor General will indeed give that direction to the Commissioner General because the Commissioner General is going to comply because the Constitution requires him to do so.

Madam Speaker, if I may also talk briefly about the other, if I may say God’s forsaken institution that is also established by Section 13 of the Constitution. I believe those in the western world who are of a superstitious turn and think that 13 is an unlucky number and it does appear that unfortunately, when you look at the institutions that are established in Section 13 of our Constitution to combat crime, they seem to be very unlucky indeed because that is where we find the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Commission. It looks like we need do break this jinx that these particular institutions are facing.

Where is the Anti-Corruption Commission? Hon. Chinotimba eloquently stated here that Parliament at one time decided to appoint a Select Committee but was stopped by Parliament ironically, in deference to the Anti- Corruption Commission that does not exist, dare I say that is a ghost. I am informed that our Standing Rules and Orders did its bit. It interviewed the Commissioners in terms of the Standing Rules and Orders and in terms of the Constitution, but up to now it is a phantom Commission. There is no Anti-Corruption Commission in place and therefore these recommendations by the Auditor General are unlikely, without all those measures in our system, to help them. They are likely to continue being unlucky and being jinxed by the number 13. It is my hope that the august House moves that motion and makes a resolution to ensure that all those steps are done and we have an Anti-Corruption Commission running and going.

Sadly, the only memory that we have is that we seem to be a country which is remembered also for the wrong things. The only memory I have of the Anti-Corruption Commission before its term passed was that it was in fact the Ant-Corruption Commission itself that was being hounded by the police and being arrested. I cannot imagine a more ridiculous state of affairs. It is my hope that we turn that around.

I am also fully in support of the second proposal that there be use by the law to recover those ill gotten gains that were uncovered by the Auditor-General. Everyone who received an allowance that is undue and that is excessive must bring back that money. Yes the provisions of the law must also be used and again, I exhort the Prosecutor General to also do something that is not usually done in the prosecution of offences.

Our Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act has provisions that allow any victims of crime to be compensated without having to go to a civil court. All the Prosecutor General needs to do after the person has been convicted to invoke the magistrate to invoke those provisions, but alas! I do not see our National Prosecuting Authority led by the Prosecutor General having again an appetite and a stomach to do those things. This money must be paid back and must be paid in full. Again, Madam Speaker, I implore upon all those people, especially the ones who have publicly accepted that they got this money ill advisedly to just pay that money back and save the tax payer’s money from using the law to do it.

In winding up my support to this motion I also want to say something related to this issue of graft and corruption and the high tolerance of corruption. I think we should be embarrassed when our own honourable ministers lead the brigade of trying to cover up corruption. Very recently the Chief Executive of the Premier Service Medical Aid Society was required to be suspended and resign, but we saw our own Ministers, these members of the Executive, falling all over themselves and breaking their legs trying to make him go back. Madam Speaker, I think that it is time that this House made a very strong statement and got out the whip and makes it clear to the Executive that we expect the Executive to do its role that is to implement the law and the decisions of policy and save all those people from suffering.

Madam Speaker, in our institutions where public servants and other members of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society are using, if you visit there those places are very depressing. Anyone of us who has been unfortunate to become ill or to have had a relative who is ill will see the sorry state of affairs and the dilapidated infrastructure at West End Hospital, but also even our public hospitals Parirenyatwa, the Bulawayo United Hospital and the Masvingo Hospital. All those places where people who are poor and who cannot go to the private expensive hospitals are the ones from whom money has been spent. Madam Speaker, I hope our Hon. Ministers do their bit and get on to the side of the people and stop interfering with good governance.

Finally Madam Speaker, I want to implore Hon. Members to also lead by example. Most Hon Members of Parliament are members of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society. It is a society. It conducts an annual general meeting each and every year and it is time that Hon. Members of this august House who are members of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society lead by example and take interest as members in the affairs of this society. We must attend that Annual General Meeting and help to restore sanity. May I implore that when the Annual General Meeting comes around, the date must be announced in this august House and all Hon. Members who are members must go and attend because last year there were very few of us. So, may I implore Hon. Members that while we demand on the Executive to take action and to see that justice is done, let us also do our bit and go and ensure that sanity is restored to this society. I thank you Madam Speaker.

(74 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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