Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
UNION leaders, Dr Tapiwanashe Kusotera and Mr Enock Dongo, purporting to front the interests of public servants in their case against the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), are out of touch with the concerns of public servants, PSMAS members in the public service have said.
Mr Dongo stands as the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) president, but his position is being challenged following his resignation from the civil service, and some civil servants say he cannot fully understand their concerns since he is no longer part of them.
Dr Kusotera uses the PSMAS medical aid subscribed by his wife, herself an employee of the same, and those affected by the problems afflicting the medical aid say he will not face the same challenges since he is a staff dependent.
Co-ordinator for the PSMAS members in the civil service, Dr Pisirai Ndarukwa, said the two are fronting personal interests under the guise of representing public servants.
“Dongo is no longer a civil servant hence he cannot fully appreciate our concerns. That is why they are blaming the Government when it is not involved in the PSMAS case.
“PSMAS has failed its members, and as members we want our card to be accepted at health institutions.
“I do not see where the Government comes in, in this case. By blaming the Government on the PSMAS case, I think Dongo is serving interests which are not known to us,” said Dr Ndarukwa.
“As for Dr Kusotera, he uses the medical aid subscribed for by his wife who is employed at PSMAS. I think he does not face the same challenges confronted by ordinary civil servants when they seek services using the PSMAS card.
“We feel he wants the status quo at PSMAS to remain since he is benefiting directly through his wife who is employed there,” said Dr Ndarukwa.
These unions have tried, unsuccessfully, to blame the Government for the failures at PSMAS, which is supposed to provide medical aid for civil servants, yet PSMAS is independent of Government and belongs to its members, who are mostly civil servants.
All the Government does is deduct contributions from civil service salaries, add in the far larger employer share of the subscriptions, and then sends all this money to PSMAS. The society is run by those appointed by its members.
Contacted for comment, Mr Dongo confirmed that he is no longer serving in the civil service, and spoke about some of his concerns regarding the PSMAS issue.
“I am no longer a civil servant, yes. But that is neither here nor there, I represent nurses either in Government, city councils or the private sector, so what I am saying, I was sent by our members.
“Yes we agree that there is mismanagement at PSMAS, but what we are saying is that the Government must not involve itself in the affairs of PSMAS,” said Mr Dongo.
Dr Kusotera on the other hand spoke of the status of his medical aid and part of the blame he is placing on the door step of the Government.
“I am a member of PSMAS. But what happens in my case, my wife has better cover and when I want to use the medical aid, I use the one which is subscribed by my wife.
“My sisters use the one I pay for. So to say I am not a member is not true. We want the situation at PSMAS to improve. In any case my wife is not in management.
“Our concern with the government is that it wants to be a member of the society, which is wrong. But like I said there are problems at PSMAS which need to be addressed,” said Dr Kusotera.
Civil servants have been complaining that PSMAS has failed its members who are automatically up to date with their remittances, but in some cases see their medical aid being turned away by healthcare service providers who say the time taken for payment is far too long.
Some of the problems have been laid at the feet of senior management and board members, who are reportedly mooting diversification into other areas such as mining and insurance, a flagrant disregard of the entity’s founding objectives, and who have also introduced co-payments.
The position has caused the regulator of medical aid societies, who can act on any medical aid society since they all have to be registered, to order a forensic audit at PSMAS, a detailed audit that looks beyond just whether the accounts balance and looks at issues such as the actual management.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Secretary General, Mr Raymond Majongwe, recently said the leadership at PSMAS should step aside to allow the audit to be done.
“As a union we believe it is necessary for the management of PSMAS to step aside,” he said in a statement.