The Premier Services Medical Aid Society is owned by members though the government claims moral ownership because 80 percent of the contributors are civil servants, Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said.
This puts the blame on the rot in the society squarely on the members who were actually the ones most disadvantaged by the society when it failed to pay service providers while management awarded themselves hefty salaries and allowances from their contributions.
PSMAS chief executive Cuthbert Dube earned more than US$500 000 a month, including allowances, while the society owed service providers US$38 million resulting in members being denied service.
Parirenyatwa was responding to a question from Senator Mike Byton Musaka who wanted to know who owned the medical aid society after the minister had said PSMAS was not a parastatal or state enterprise.
Senator Musaka also asked the minister why the government set up commissions of inquiry or forensic audits to investigate corruption in government instead of just asking the police to do their job because commissions were too expensive.
Parirenyatwa did not have an immediate response and said he would ask his colleagues which route would be more beneficial.
Q & A
SENATOR MUSAKA: Thank you Mr. President. I also wish to thank the Minister for coming to shed light on the goings on at PSMAS. My question is in two parts. The Hon. Minister says that PSMAS is not a parastatal, therefore I should think that it can only be a Government company. If not so, then who owns it?
My other question is to seek clarification from the Minister regarding the process and procedure when investigating companies that are either Government owned or parastatals, where wrong doing is seen to have happened because there tends to be either a commission of enquiry or forensic audits, which in my view are very expensive. Are the police not competent enough once wrong doing has been suspected? Can the police not just deal with it? I am sure that they are very competent and they can do it properly. They can arrest the person and name and shame that person. I just want to seek clarification on whether there is a law which has got the route of a commission or a forensic audit, which is quite expensive, while the police are quite capable of doing the job. I thank you.
*DR. PARIRENYATWA: I want to thank Hon. Senator Musaka for the two questions. The first one being who owns PSMAS since we said that it is not a parastatal. We, as the Government claim moral ownership because 80% of the contributors are civil servants and that money is also reflected as coming from Government, but in terms of legalities, the board is elected by the membership and the members include yourselves. So, those are the people who actually own it. The board is made up of people elected by the members and five people nominated by the Government. The ownership is actually the membership. So we do not really own it. It is not a quasi parastatal but what it is, is that we contribute a lot of money into it. Secondly, we administer the Statutory Instrument as Government for all medical aid societies. So, our entry point is there as well, as a Statutory Instrument.
The second question that you asked is that audit is expensive, why can we not get the police to do investigations. I have to ask others which would be more beneficial? I will ask from my colleagues but it is something that has come from you and we will also look into it. Thank you.