Unions blasted for interference in PSMAS

02 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
Unions blasted for interference in PSMAS The failure by PSMAS to meet deadlines to pay service providers and pharmacies, plus the growing controversy over board decisions to use medical aid subscriptions to buy gold mines and other businesses unconnected with the normal functions of a medical aid society, caused the regulator of medical aid societies to order a forensic audit at PSMAS. The regulator can act in any medical aid society since they all have to be registered. 

The Herald

Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter

Civil servants have blasted their unions for trying, unsuccessfully, to blame the Government for the failures at Premier Service Medical Aid Society (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.

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 in 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.

Ordinary workers who spoke to The Herald blasted the unions saying the unions do not represent them rather they are on the lookout to criticise authorities.

“What I understand is that Government does not own PSMAS; rather they are concerned that we, the members, are not benefiting. Is it a secret that the PSMAS card is not accepted at hospitals,” said Mrs Sarah Shumba, a primary school teacher.

“These unions are representing their funders, not us. Those who represent us will be happy that at least authorities are seeing that we are being short-changed.”

Sister Anna Ndlovu, a healthcare worker at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, said the unions were deviating from the real issues.

“We are against the unions who have political scores to settle and do that at the pretence that they are representing our interest, which is wrong.

“Our problem is with PSMAS that is stealing our money. Now the said unions are hiding with the name of Government in the name of interference. What interference?”

“What we just want is the acceptance of the PSMAS card, not what these unions are doing. They want to divert attention by blaming the Government. PSMAS is at fault here, that’s all.”

Another civil servant, Mr Andrew Mutizwa, said: “There is a clear case at PSMAS where they want to misappropriate funds by diverting into businesses that are not their core business, they want to steal and that must be stopped.

“The so-called unions are not representing us. They want to fight Government and that is not what we want in this case, what we want is for the PSMAS card to work.”

Government has made it clear that it is not involved in the affairs of PSMAS, rather it is concerned as an employer that its workforce, the public servants subscribing with PSMAS, are being turned back at health institutions as their medical aid is being deemed useless.

This is despite the fact that Treasury is paying money for the subscriptions of its members who constitute approximately more than 80 percent of PSMAS members, money from Treasury is around 90 percent of PSMAS revenue.

The regulator of the medical aid has ordered a forensic audit at the organisation leading to cancellation of the annual general meeting which was supposed to have been held on Wednesday this week.

After the regulator ordered cancellation of the AGM, Secretary of the Service Commissions, Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe reminded workers under his purview not to be absent from work on the pretext of attending a meeting which is not there.

“The regulator has advised that the PSMAS AGM that was scheduled for the 30 June 2022 has been cancelled on his orders in order to allow a forensic audit that has commenced to be completed first.

“Civil servants who are members of PSMAS and were planning to attend the AGM should therefore not travel for purposes of attending the AGM, but instead report for duty at their workstations as usual,” wrote Ambassador Wutawunashe on June 29.

However, some union leaders misrepresented the notification trying to get the public into believing that this was interference by the Government, rather than passing on a message and reminding staff they could not have a day off from normal duty to attend a non-existent meeting.

Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions president Mr Enock Dongo, conceded that PSMAS is erring in the way it is managing the institution, but could not satisfactorily explain why they are blaming Government in this case.

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