Police probe Cimas graft allegations Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Aspect Maunganidze

Zvamaida Murwira-Senior Reporter

POLICE have been roped in to investigate allegations of corruption, money laundering and externalisation of funds levelled against CIMAS Medical Aid Society by a former executive.

This comes as the Ministry of Health and Child Care has allowed the Cimas Extraordinary General Meeting to proceed after it was initially aborted at the last minute owing to reservations expressed on why it was being held on the basis of a board-initiated forensic audit instead of waiting for the audit initiated by the Ministry as the regulator.

Cimas has since issued a circular notifying members that the EGM is now set for May 2.

Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Aspect Maunganidze said the Ministry had called in the police to see if there was any criminal act committed. 

“Remember there are complaints raised that are of a criminal nature, so it’s prudent that those charged with investigating allegations related to criminal conduct be invited so that the law takes its course,” said Dr Maunganidze.

“The Ministry will hold a meeting this week with arms responsible for law enforcement. The meeting is to spell out issues that need to be investigated. Once that happens the law enforcement agencies will kick in”.

At the EGM, the board intends to present findings of a board-initiated forensic audit although a second audit is now in progress after the regulator said it wanted an independent forensic audit and had since appointed Ralph and Bommet Accounting and Audit firm. 

“Other issues likely to be raised at the EGM are why the former manager who complained was not interviewed by the first team of auditors and why the forensic audit was done while the people involved were in office,” said a source.

Cimas board chairperson Mrs Emma Fundira declined to respond to enquires sent to her. Commenting on the EGM, Dr Maunganidze said the Ministry was closely following developments at Cimas.

“We have asked the board to furnish us with their forensic audit report. We want to establish if it addresses our concerns, but if it fails we will insist on an independent forensic audit as per our earlier directive. We will also send our representative to attend the EGM to ensure that everything is done aboveboard and in a manner that protects members,” he said.

Dr Maunganidze said the Ministry was aware that the society was asking employees and patients to sign proxy forms but would ensure the system was not abused. Seeking proxies from members who will not attend in person is permitted, but members cannot be forced to grant their proxies.

Long time Cimas board member, Mr Chester Mhende, said there was a need to guard against the use of proxy members as that could be abused.

“The regulator may have to review proxies in light of the seriousness of the matters at hand. I also see that the notice for the meeting does not give an agenda and where a copy of the forensic report can be collected as members need to go through these ahead of the meeting,” said Mr Mhende.

The row at Cimas started when then general manager Dr Sacrifice Chirisa, now battling Cimas over the cancellation of his employment contract, raised several complaints, among them that the society had embarked on unviable expansion projects locally and abroad. 

Other allegations include the awarding of contracts to friends, siphoning of money through renovation of clinics at unsustainable costs, and issuing of loans to top management totalling US$10 million.

Dr Chirisa, who is represented by Dr Rodgers Matsikidze of Matsikidze law firm, is challenging the termination of his contract.

In his petition to the parent Ministry, Dr Chirisa said some of the projects he described as unviable include renovation of the Borrowdale clinic for US$2 million despite it being a rented building, renovation of a Mashonaland Holdings building budgeted at US$3 million whose costs are now higher than what was used originally to build it, and buying of firms in neighbouring countries believed to be just shell companies.

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