PSMAS takeover plot exposed

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By Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Service Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), an umbrella body for civil service servant unions, claims it has unmasked a takeover plot of Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) by the Public Service Commission and argues the proposed demutualisation of the company will worsen civil servants’ plight in accessing medical care.

According to ZCPSTU, civil servants continue to bear the brunt of the squabbles and bickering for control of PSMAS as the Public Service Commission angles to seize authority.

To access medical care, ZCPSTU said civil servants were being forced to cough up co-payments and shortfalls.

In a detailed press release, ZCPSTU said it had evidence that the PSC was out to take control of the medical aid society which could potentially plunge the Society back to an era where senior government officials massively looted the Society’s coffers nearly bringing it to its knees.

“The PSC must keep its hands off PSMAS which by Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe’s own admission, is a worker’s project, a mutual society that is governed by its own members the majority of who are civil servants and who are therefore our members,” the statement reads.

“Any issue to do with malfeasances and misgovernance should be addressed through the society’s own constitution and not by an external party,” it reads.

The union alleged that the PSC wants to reverse all the actions taken to restore sanity at the medical funder in the wake of the Cuthbert Dube era scandal.

Following the salary-gate scandal, an interim board led by Gibson Mhlanga from the Ministry of Health and Child Care led the PSMAS through an austerity programme that included restructuring and spearheaded the incorporation of strict monitoring systems to prevent a repeat of the salary-gate scandal excesses.

“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 ZCPSTU said, adding that recent events within the Premier Group “have left us in no doubt in our minds that the PSC has a well-calculated plan to control and take over the Society,” the statement says.

The apex civil servants union called on the PSC not to infer that its provision of subscriptions as part of an agreed staff condition of service amounted to ownership of the Society.

“PSMAS is a mutual Society owned by its members drawn from the public sector, informal sector and the private sector. Employees in these various sectors of the economy have varying internal arrangements with their employees on payments of medical aid subscriptions.”

“In the case of civil servants, the arrangement is that the employees themselves pay 20% of the subscription fee while the employer (Government) pays 80 percent. Needless to say, this is an arrangement is a collective bargaining agreement which does not confer member status on Government, the employer,” the document reads.

The PSC has been caught up in a storm after its Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe held a Press conference and announced that the Government had spent over $6 billion in subscriptions payments to PSMAS.

Once the figures were calculated to cover the over 890 000 members under the civil service, the figures showed the subscriptions were a pittance compared to the costs of medical treatment in the country and the claims payment bill for PSMAS around U$1,5 billion per month.

The PSC has since announced that it will work to cover the funding gaps in PSMAS and is due to flesh out its proposal this week.

However, ZCPSTU said to prevent the PSC from assuming ownership, it 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,” the statement further reads.

The Union also called for the PSC to refrain from speaking as if they stood for the entire Government workforce on conditions of service issues without consulting the staff members. Also, the Union also called for an urgent National Joint Negotiation Council meeting to resolve the issue of PSMAS from a condition of service perspective.

Earlier, the Union wrote to President Emmerson Mnangagwa advising him of the interference by PSC and Mnangagwa expressed concern on the disturbing attempts to destabilize and eventually demutualise the PSMAS by some organs of Government, led by the Civil Service Commission.