HARARE - Troubled Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas)'s board members raked in a staggering $1 million in allowances last year, as fresh details of the alleged plunder at the institution emerge.
The members, including presidential spokesperson George Charamba and incoming chairman Luxon Zembe, were paid huge amounts in sitting allowances at a time Psmas was reeling under a $38 million debt and poor civil servants - its biggest contributor - cannot access doctors.
The revelations come as the scandal-hit organisation had approved — via a special committee and in which the top President Robert Mugabe aide sat — the extension of Cuthbert Dube’s tenure by 10 years in December last year and somehow contradict what the top civil servant had said about his remuneration on Tuesday.
As it is, documents seen by the Daily News show that the members received the following amounts:
- Meisie Namasasu — $174 062.00
- Newton Mhlanga — $130 787.50
- Chigwamba Constance — $66 050.00
- Sunguro Pretty — $71 153.50
- Moses Mtombeni — $71 900.00
- George M Chaburuka — $234 546.50
- George Charamba — $109 397.50
- Luxon Zembe — $82 525.00
And as the “corrupt salaries” saga continues, the development shows the gravy train and patronage extended beyond Psmas House in Harare’s central business district.
“The average board fees varied. There is what is called a retainer. It’s a small fee, I do not have the figure (and) you have to go to management. The least remunerated has always been Charamba,” the top Mugabe aide said earlier this week.
And according to the same documents obtained by the Daily News this week, Charamba only fell short of George Chabururuka’s $235 000 annual earnings at the tainted medical funder, followed by Meisie Nemasasu at $174 000 and Newton Mhlanga at $130 000.
Charamba, meanwhile, earned a cool $109 000, a 2013 schedule seen by this paper shows.
According to the same documents, Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary Pretty Sunguro was the least paid on $71 000, while Zembe pocketed nearly $83 000.
While it is easy to understand how Chabururuka probably grossed that much — as he was the Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI) chairman and Psmas heartbeat -— Nemasasu was a distant second as chairperson of the main board and regularly conferred more with Dube, a line State apparatchiks have sponsored.
In explaining the mechanisms of how the former chief executive’s remuneration package was arrived at, Charamba said the issue was mainly driven by the Zimbabwe Football Association president and a string of ex-chairpersons in line with a 60-year-old tradition or arrangement at the society.
“We found the machinery (salaries arrangement) already in place. We fatally assumed government policy was being followed,” he said, adding “there was a board within the board who in secrecy agreed on conditions of service.”
Charamba, however, emphasised that the rot was not institutionalised, but “reduced to the CEO (and) not members of our board” and even, though, it had a consequence of besmirching “the image of the whole board.”
Crucially, he had even “shot down” a proposal to pay board members who had not attended some meetings.
And as Dube comes across as the fall guy, and a victim of factional fighting in Mugabe’s Zanu PF, it turns out that his salary — the main cudgel for his unceremonious exit and hounding — was made up of Psmas earnings at $92 000, and another $138 000 from PSMI and Zambia entity benefits.
This also comes amid revelations that all the board members sat on key committees, including one for the controversial group chief executive officer’s remuneration committee, which approved the disgraced Dube’s salary.
Zembe — a business consultant and corporate governance guru — also sat on several company boards and at least eight of 13 sub-committees within the $310 million medical services group.
These subsidiaries include PSMI — where Dube was given a 20 percent stake funded by the parent company — Claybank Clinic (Private) Limited, Dorothy Duncan Centre, Premier Optometry Services (Private), Emergency Medical Rescue Ambulance Services, Premier Service Clinical Laboratories (Private) Limited, Premier Rehabilitation Services and Premier Dental Clinics (Private) Limited.
With three other top government officials, including Higher Education permanent secretary Constance Chigwamba, Nemasasu and PSC senior staffer Sunguro on the boards, the other companies include Medical Centre, Parkview Hospital, PMAC Properties, Premier Services Medical Healthcare (Private) Limited, Premier Service Hospitals Chiredzi, Premier Service Hospitals Shashi, PSMI Hospitals (West End Hospitals), Premier Service Pharmaceuticals (Private) Limited and Premier Service Radiology.
And as new information indicates that the Psmas board had approved Dube’s continuation until 2024 — and when he was 70 — it is clear that the group was either happy with his performance or maintaining the status quo that has come to haunt them, analysts said.
Among a litany of fresh details that the Daily News reported on this week, the ousted chief executive was not only entitled to a $500 000 long service-award payment every five years, but was also given a host of allowances.
These include free medical aid cover, unlimited fuel, guards, chefs and other top-hat benefits.
And amid revelations that Dube was in line for a 20 percent stake in PSMI — a company formerly run by Farai Muchena and which essentially holds all of Psmas’ operating assets, including hospitals — it has emerged that this was to be funded by the mutual organisation “as part of his retirement package”.