Psmas board lacks legitimacy

HARARE - Whenever a State institution triggers public outrage, it is important for government to institute effective remedial action.

Failure to do so will erode public confidence in the institution, let alone the government itself.

Now, we are all aware of the public outrage occasioned by revelations of salaries at Psmas.

Cuthbert Dube, the group chief executive officer, was subsequently sent on retirement.

Curiously, his retirement age did not matter until the uncovering of his outrageous salary.

But the goings-on at Psmas after Dube’s departure would have been comedic if they weren’t just as outrageous.

Here is a government that wants us to accept that only the chairperson of the board Meisie Namasasu was responsible for the aberrations at Psmas.

The rest of the board can carry on as normal.

A statement from the board  said it had elected Luxon Zembe, an independent non-executive director, to be the Psmas substantive chairperson with immediate effect.

This is quite awkward. You have a board that presided over outrageous salaries at Psmas being allowed to operate as if it has nothing to do with the improprieties at the organisation.

Zembe has simply been elevated from ordinary member of the board to chairperson.

Only one member of this board George Chabururuka, a finance and administration director Higher Education ministry, has had the magnanimity to resign.

Why has this board been protected?

The board should assume, or be seen to have, collective responsibility.

The latest revelation is that Dube might own as much as 20 percent of PSMI, a key subsidiary of Psmas.

The board, according to the report, would like to know how such a huge stake fell into the hands of one employee and whether the equity was paid for or was part of his “incentives package.”

So here is a board that claims that, not only was it unaware of the obscene salaries at Psmas but was also ignorant of the ownership structure at PSMI, hence the investigation.

In other words, until last week, the board did not know the shareholding of a subsidiary of an organisation upon which it has oversight.

What do these events tell us about this board?

And yet the same board is to carry out investigations.

Look at the mess here: Newton Mhlanga, acting chair after Namasasu, did not get the substantive appointment because “there is a possibility that he may have been aware of, or possibly involved in, Dube’s acquisition of 20 percent of PSMI.”

Mhlanga, apparently, is still a member of the board.

The truth of the matter is that the entire Psmas board does not have any legitimacy.

Its position is simply untenable.

These people do not have any legitimacy to conduct any investigation on activities that might have involved them, as the suspicions about Mhlanga indicate, apart from overall dereliction of duty.

Last week, I said ministers should share blame for the current salaries’ outrage.

David Parirenyatwa, the minister of Health, is demonstrably indecisive and weak as the mess at Psmas demonstrates.

It is hard to understand why this board should be in place.

On the other hand, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, has not only sought to undermine the mayor of Harare but has acted against public sentiment in the city.

He has reversed mayor Bernard Manyenyeni’s decision to suspend town clerk Tendai Mahachi for failing to provide the salary schedule for all senior council employees.

The long-suffering residents in Harare are naturally curious, and indeed angry, why Chombo would intervene to protect Mahachi against the lawful decision of an elected mayor.

In both cases, we see how ministers fail the people and appear to serve the interests of the elite, and possibly, their own.

Comments (5)

Uuuummm thanx for the observation. Weak ministers indeed!!! Self centered, selfish, stupid...thats what they are. One Day!!!!

talmasen - 4 February 2014

But let us also consider the possible advantages of having Dr Muchena and Mr Zembe taking over the helm for a moment. Dr Muchena has a bit of knowledge about the operations of Psmas and therefore would be best placed to stabilise the situation operationally. Can you imagine putting in a complete new person at this juncture. He/she may be sabotaged and psmas will go the drain. Dr Muchena and Mr Zembe may be rightly perceived to have been complicit in the obscene salaries but they have a pride to protect and can't afford to be reckless because they know people are watching. Mr Zembe in particular has a reputation to repair, not with his widely acknowledged resume. I agree with the fact that in medium to long term these people are not appropriate-they are likely to start also behaving like Cuthbert Dube as soon as they realise the issue is off the radder. PSMAS plays a big financial intermediary role in the medical field and we had suffered a lot over the years when they started to misuse their big budget. Being an ex-psmas doctor who was unceremoniously fired for asking too much, I strongly believe their PSMI is not sustainable. I suspect money was directed from Psmas to PSMI to sustain operations just to prop up Dube's ego. Do you honestly think PSMI clinics and WestEND hospital could generate Dr Muchena's US 190 000 per month salary, leave alone other doctors and staff? What about operating capital for other day to day issues? If that source of funds is closed, will PSMI survive? We suspect PSMI clinics were getting preferential payment terms from PSMAS at the expense of other service providers who would go for over 6 months without payments.

Former PSMAS doctor - 5 February 2014

@former Psmas doctor. vangoita sezvakaitwa ku ZBC, ZMDC - fire whole board, bambazonke. This situation is crazy

stix - 5 February 2014

I think its becoming clear that the minister of Health does not have the capacity to deal with this issue. I think the President has to take note of this and take it into account the next time there is a reshuffle. Reshuffle Parirenyatwa out of the job. Why cant he act like Prof Moyo?

ZimAnalyst - 5 February 2014

I just find it outrageous that Zembe is professing ignorance over key issues relating to an organization for which he was a board member. He claims to have been in the dark because he was not the Chairman. Really? The question is...why stay on the board if you are left out of the decision making process? Was it for the money? The fees paid for sitting on the board appear to have been outrageous, judging by the amounts paid to the wonder...!!!

Strategist - 5 February 2014

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