PSMAS, NSSA making the ‘grass’ suffer

PSMAS, NSSA making the ‘grass’ suffer Dr Parirenyatwa
Dr Parirenyatwa

Dr Parirenyatwa

Lloyd Gumbo Mr Speaker Sir

In all fairness, the good minister is offside and he should answer tough questions, because at the end of the day, it is the poor people who suffer more.

So, this past week news headlines have been about Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa receiving advance payment from Premier Service Medical Aid Society leading to an outcry from various stakeholders, with some calling for his sacking, claiming that he had been “corruptly” given the money.

For his part, the minister was categorical, stating that the advance payment was just ‘capitation’ to help a supplier of a service to address some of the serious challenges they were currently facing.

In this case, since the minister’s surgery was probably facing liquidity challenges, he had to seek help from PSMAS and they obliged given that he is the one who issues operating licences.

We were not done with depressing news, as it also emerged that National Social Security Authority executives who were recently sacked had been paying themselves about $40 000 per month, which is way above the $6 000 cap that was approved by Cabinet at the height of the salarygate exposes last year.

They also allegedly benefited hundreds of thousands of dollars on housing and vehicle loans as well as facilitating loans for their loved ones.

We are also told of how suspended PSMAS managing director, Henry Mandishona almost doubled the salary limit that was set by the interim management.

The Auditor-General’s Office also established that senior management at parastatals and State enterprises continued to pay themselves salaries and allowances way above the approved $6 000 and this has continued under the watch of ministries that superintend them.

You see, Mr Speaker Sir, there is a formula to the madness!

All these things are happening at institutions that are supposed to protect the interests of ordinary contributors.

People have claimed that the case of Parirenyatwa was tantamount to corruption, yet it is just abuse of office in the sense that he was given advance payment because of his position.

James Matiza

James Matiza

It is not corruption at play, but the issue of morals where the minister may need attention.

Yes, being given advance payment is not a criminal offence by any standards as long as there is a paper trail and acknowledgement by both parties.

But it is the circumstances that raise eyebrows, Mr Speaker Sir, given the background information that everyone knows.

For instance, it is a fact that PSMAS owes a number of health institutions thousands of dollars and has been on record saying it could not settle the debts since it faced liquidity challenges.

For this position, PSMAS risked attachment of its properties but they insisted health institutions must be patient with them.

PSMAS went to the extent of advising health institutions not to treat its subscribers based on the medical aid but on cash.

They claimed that they would reimburse all the people who used cash instead.

Mr Speaker Sir, it then boggles the mind how the same institution found it appropriate to process advance payment that triples what it actually owes.

People subscribed with PSMAS have had to bear the brunt of cash payment as they have been turned away from health institutions or told to bring cash instead of medical aid cards.

The very reason people join medical aid societies is because they know they may not have cash at hand when they need to seek medical attention.

To then expect the same people to pay cash upfront while their contributions are being deducted monthly is taking people for a ride.

This is where Parirenyatwa’s morals are found wanting.

How could he seek such benevolence when he is in the picture of the problems that people, the majority of whom are civil servants, face when they need medical attention using the PSMAS medical aid?

In all fairness, the good minister is offside and he should answer tough questions, because at the end of the day, it is the poor people who suffer more.

Mr Speaker Sir, how would the minister and PSMAS expect its creditors to fold their arms amid revelations that the health insurer can actually afford to pay in advance other service providers while failing to settle what it already owes?

It is common knowledge that these service providers who are owed then avoid all patients with PSMAS medical aid, thereby condemning them to death.

Parliamentarians have on several occasions queried how NSSA expected pensioners to make a living out of less than $60 pay outs despite the various investments that the authority has been pursuing for years now.

Meanwhile, James Matiza and his team were living large to the extent of extending the benevolence to their alleged loved ones.

Mr Speaker Sir, what is clear is that at the end of the day, it is the ordinary pensioners who get the short end of the stick.

It is for that reason that parliamentarians must summon officials from both Government and parastatals and State enterprises to demand answers on why officials disregard a Cabinet directive.

What is disheartening is the fact that the Constitution has sought to protect public funds by providing that officials who approve overspending and diversion of money allocated to their ministries and entities have to pay from their own pockets as a way of getting tough on financial mismanagement and indiscipline.

Section 308 (1) and (2) call on officials responsible for expenditure of public funds and those in control of public property to ensure public funds are safeguarded and spent on legally authorised purposes and amounts and to safeguard the property to ensure it’s not lost, destroyed, damaged or misused.

Subsection (4) states: “An Act of Parliament must provide for the speedy detection of breaches of Subsections (2) and (3) and the disciplining and punishment of persons responsible for any such breaches and, where appropriate, the recovery of misappropriated funds or property.”

But as has been raised by the Speaker on several occasions, alignment of existing laws to the Constitution has been painfully slow, in the process allowing errant Government officials and heads of State parastatals and enterprises to get away with murder.

There is definitely an urgent need for speedy alignment of laws to ensure the public are protected from individuals such as the above, whose appetite for self-enrichment can’t be matched by anyone.

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