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Workers pile legal pressure on Govt over PSMAS

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By Mary Taruvinga 

Workers’ apex body, Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Unions (ZCPSU) has piled legal pressure on the government to stop ‘illegal interference’ on the country’s oldest and biggest medical aid group, Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).

According to the civil servants apex body, the government through the Public Service Commission (PSC), has been angling to ‘seize’ control of PSMAS and to run it in their interest.

In a High Court urgent application that listed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, the Civil Service Commission (PSC), and PSMAS as respondents, ZCPSU secretary David Dzatsunga said the fierce battle for control of PSMAS was costing the institution financially.

“I have gathered from the relevant office of the 3rd respondent that advertising, printing, and other costs related to the hosting of the 30 June 2022 AGM are in excess of ZW$15 million. If the AGM is re-advertised in full and fresh materials are printed, the ZW$15 million will be a sunk cost.”

In the main application, Dzatsunga, who sits on the board of PSMAS as one of the three civil services, seeks to set aside the cancellation of PSMAS AGM last month, arguing that letters of April 4 and June 28, 2022, to postpone the AGM were unlawful and violated his Constitutional rights.

“On 27 May 2021, PSMAS flighted a Notice in the local press of the AGM of its members scheduled for 24 June 2021. The notice was in terms of the Constitution of PSMAS.

“Soon after flighting the notice, PSC through its chairman summoned the management of PSMAS to his office where he requested, among other things, the postponement of the AGM for June 2021.

“The board of directors of PSMAS turned down the request via its letter dated 15 June. On 23 June 2021, a day before the scheduled AGM of PSMAS, the Minister of Health and Child Care, under the erroneous belief that he (as opposed to the Secretary of his Ministry is the regulator of medical aid societies, wrote to PSMAS ordering the postponement of the AGM ‘citing concerns raised by significant stakeholders which include Civil Service Commission,” read part of Dzatsunga’

“The defectiveness and indeed unlawfulness of the order and directive by the Minister of Health and Child Care notwithstanding, PSMAS nonetheless compiled and deferred the holding of its AGM.”

“It is also his contention that the letters were written without jurisdiction or lawful authority and the court application cited the Secretary for Health and Child Care as a party to the pending litigation,” He added.

Last week, the government, through the PSC, blocked the convening of the PSMAS annual general meeting to ostensibly allow the completion of a forensic audit.