Mabvuku-Tafara legislator James Maridadi says 75 percent of Zimbabwe’s problems are due to corruption but the government is doing nothing about it.
Instead the courts are prosecuting petty thieves like police officers demanding $2 bribes or journalists telling legislators to pay them $15 to write nicely about them yet two permanent secretaries who were paid a total of $410 000 by the troubled Premier Service Medical Aid Society are still holding on to their jobs.
Seconding the motion calling on the government to prosecute all those involved in the PSMAS scandal in which 11 executives paid themselves nearly $120 million in five years, he did not care so much about former chief executive Cuthbert Dube who earned more than $500 000 a year while the society could not pay bills for its members, but he was pained that up to now nothing had been done about two permanent secretaries that were paid a total of $410 000 which they did not deserve.
He did not name the permanent secretary but said one was paid $240 000 and the other $170 000.
The Herald reported at the time the scandal broke that there were three permanent secretaries on the PSMAS board. These were Secretary for Information George Charambva, Public Service Secretary Pretty Sunguro, and Education Secretary Constance Chigwamba.
Only Charamba was singled out as having received over $100 000 in board fees.
In his contribution, Maridadi said the two permanent secretaries and the Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa must be brought to book.
“What pains me the most is that we have two permanent secretaries who have taken money out of PSMAS but government has not done anything about them and for me, this is the most painful thing,” he said.
“Cuthbert Dube could have taken all the money in the world and I would not care a bit or lose any sleep, but for a permanent secretary taking US$240 000 of money that he knows he does not deserve. I think it is an indictment on the administration of this country and this august House and something must be done about it and it must be done now.
“75% of the problems that we have in this country are as a result of corruption and not anything else. It is not corruption by a constable based at Mabvuku Police Station who is taking a bribe of US$2.00 from kombis or a journalist at some newspaper who is telling legislators to give him US$15.00 so that he writes nicely about them, it is not that. I am talking of corruption which has an impact on the GDP of the country.”
Maridadi said the legislators had to make PSMAS an example because the level of impunity in Zimbabwe was unbelievable.
“It is that impunity that this House must deal with. Hon. Speaker, I have said a lot and the Hon. mover of this motion has said a lot, but I think what I need to say in conclusion is that corruption must be dealt with. The duty of this House is to deal with corruption and let us start by showing our teeth to PSMAS and let us use our teeth by hauling before this Parliament, the members of the Executive, the Permanent Secretaries who took that money and that money should be returned to the people of Zimbabwe and should not be used by a few individuals.”
HON. MARIDADI: I wish to congratulate and thank the mover of this motion Hon. Cross for being so eloquent and providing us with those figures that are frightening. I am very musically inclined Mr. Speaker. There is a song by Bob Dylan, American rock music star, which is entitled “Sweet-heart like you” He says in that song, you steal a dime they throw you in jail, “You steal a million they make you king. This is what describes the situation in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Speaker, the Chief Executive of MTN in South Africa earns ZAR48 million a year inclusive of bonuses. MTN turns over more than ZAR340 billion a year and Mr. Sifiso Dayengwa justifiably earns that money. Here, we have a Medical Aid Society which does not make a profit and fails to pay for its services and fails to pay employees. The least paid employee at PSMAS, who is a cleaner, takes home about US$198 while the CEO, Mr. Cuthbert Dube takes home US$540 000 a month. This is much more than the Executive Chairman of Coca Cola who is based in Atlanta, Georgia in USA who does not take home that kind of money. Coca Cola is an international company with a turnover that is more than the combined GDP of all the 15 SADC countries and yet he earns less than Cuthbert Dube, a person who works in Zimbabwe, which has a GDP of less than US$4 billion.
Mr. Speaker, Zimbabwe has failed to go to the World Cup and to the Africa Cup of Nations under the watch of Cuthbert Dube. He is elected to run ZIFA, in charge of the biggest sport in the country soccer, participating in international tourneys and Zimbabwe fails to do anything. What this means is that Zimbabwe celebrates failure. On the board of PSMAS sat two Permanent Secretaries. One of them took home US$240 000 in board fees in one year while the other one took US$170 000. They are still operating as Permanent Secretaries and nothing has been done to them. We are in this House talking to ourselves and getting blue in the face while my friend, murungu is getting yellow in the face [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] but what we know is that Government will not and does not take action against people that have committed gross corruption.
HON. SPEAKER: Order, did you mean Hon. Cross
HON. MARIDADI: Yes, my good friend Hon. Cross. If you go to the Magistrates Courts and sit in the gallery in one of the courts that try fraud, cases that are brought before the magistrates are cases of fraud of corruption of a police officer who took a bribe of US$60 on the highway to Bulawayo, a junior officer at ZB bank who converted US$1200 of his employer’s money to his own use and a ZUPCO driver who sold tickets for US$36 and converted the money to his own use.
Those are the type of people that are tried at the Magistrates Courts. I have never been to the Magistrates Courts and seen somebody being arraigned for stealing money, the way money has been stolen at PSMAS.
What this House needs to do as a way forward to show that we have teeth, is to bring the Minister of Health to account. Firstly, the Minister of Health must tell this House why he was given US$100 000 which he did not deserve from PSMAS, after which we then quiz him on the action that his Ministry has taken on the issue of PSMAS. Mr. Speaker, we have young doctors who have spent 7 years at school reading medicine, such a difficult field of study. They are employed by Government and earn US$350 to US$400 because our Government has no money. When this guy then goes to work for a private surgery on call, he does not get any money because his boss, the owner of the surgery is not getting any remittances from PSMAS because Cuthbert Dube and 10 Executives have taken all the money, yet this Government keeps quite about it.
The role of Government is to look out for the interest of the afflicted in our society, which are the interests of the poor. This Government is not doing that. This Government can only look after the interests of the afflicted and the poor by taking people like Cuthbert Dube to jail. I do not think you need a competent Magistrate but an ordinary Magistrate and an ordinary Prosecutor. For all we care, Cuthbert Dube could hire the services of George Bizzos but there is no way he will avoid a custodial jail term, he will have to do jail time.
I had occasion to fly to South Africa one day and I met Mr. Dube in the departure lounge. The guy could not walk. He was in crutches and was looking sickly. I said to myself, here is a man who is running the biggest medical aid society in the country and he is the President of the biggest sport in the country but he cannot help himself or walk on his own two feet. How does that happen? I looked at him and said if anything, this man should either be in hospital or in an old people’s home. What is he doing running PSMAS. That is the reason why he was able to take all this money because to him it did not matter.
However, what pains me the most is that we have two Permanent Secretaries who have taken money out of PSMAS but Government has not done anything about them and for me, this is the most painful thing. Cuthbert Dube could have taken all the money in the world and I would not care a bit or lose any sleep, but for a Permanent Secretary taking US$240 000 of money that he knows he does not deserve. I think it is an indictment on the administration of this country and this august House and something must be done about it and it must be done now. –[HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]- 75% of the problems that we have in this country are as a result of corruption and not anything else. It is not corruption by a Constable based at Mabvuku Police Station who is taking a bribe of US$2.00 from Kombis or a journalist at some newspaper who is telling legislators to give him US$15.00 so that he writes nicely about them, it is not that. I am talking of corruption which has an impact on the GDP of the country.
Hon. Speaker, I cannot even start to enumerate on the parastatals like ZBC. I gave ZBC 12 years of my early adult life and here is a guy who becomes the Chief Executive. His highest qualification is some language degree at some institution and his salary is US$35 000.00. You have somebody who is earning US$35 000.00, who has no known qualifications and a provincial medical doctor earning US$500.00 – how does that happen? You go to NRZ, when NRZ employs a Chief Executive, the first thing they do is buy him an executive car. The Chief Executives of NRZ, ZESA and any parastatal you can think of, they drive Mercedes Benz S350, with a value of about US$250 000.00. Here is a parastatal which is struggling, which has been in the red for as long as I can remember, but the Chief Executive is rolling around town in a Mercedes Benz S350 – how does that happen?
Maybe they will come back to me and say Hon. Maridadi, Government Ministers are also rolling in Mercedes Benz S350 but the same Government does not have money. I will say look, collectively let us do something about it. I think those are the issues that we must look at. I do not know why this Parliament cannot have the teeth to invite the Minister of Health and Child Care as soon as possible so that he accounts. The level of impunity in this country is unbelievable. It is that impunity that this House must deal with. Hon. Speaker, I have said a lot and the Hon. mover of this motion has said a lot, but I think what I need to say in conclusion is that corruption must be dealt with. The duty of this House is to deal with corruption and let us start by showing our teeth to PSMAS and let us use our teeth by hauling before this Parliament, the members of the Executive, the Permanent Secretaries who took that money and that money should be returned to the people of Zimbabwe and should not be used by a few individuals. I thank you. [-HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.]-