By Mugove Tafirenyika
HARARE – Members of Parliament from across the political divide say they want Health minister David Parirenyatwa and two other senior government officials accused of benefitting irregularly from the financially-strapped Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) arrested.
This emerged in the National Assembly yesterday when both ruling Zanu PF and opposition MDC legislators united in calling for all the people linked to the alleged plunder of the health insurer’s resources to be brought to book.
Debating a motion by MDC Bulawayo Central MP Eddie Cross, Zanu PF Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba, said Parliament should summon Parirenyatwa to explain the circumstances under which he had claimed a contentious advance payment of $77 000 from Psmas recently.
The colourful legislator said while MPs normally disagreed on many issues along political party lines, “it would be the height of insanity if we fail to agree that the minister involved should come to this House and be held accountable”.
He bemoaned the fact that the government had for a long time ignored the legislators’ call to deal decisively with corruption, adding that the country faced the danger of the scourge spiralling out of control.
“Mr Speaker sir, it is time this House shows the nation that it has teeth to bite and the Psmas case presents us with that opportunity.
“It is you Mr Speaker who has the power to make them (senior government officials) appear before this House, and if they refuse they can be charged with contempt of Parliament.
“In other countries like China, they would have been arrested together with their relatives over the matter.
Why are we not calling for their arrest here?” Chinotimba charged.
He also revealed that MPs had recently sought clarification on the matter from Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in Victoria Falls “but we were told that government has no business in Psmas, and we were then left wondering what the minister was doing”.
Zanu PF MP for Mazowe South, Fortune Chasi, weighed in saying, “I have no hesitation in associating with the motion because this House needs to take remedial action because failure to do so would be a serious indictment on this House”.
Cross, whose motion was seconded by his Mabvuku-Tafara counterpart James Maridadi, expressed concern that the government had tolerated corruption in parastatals for too long now, describing the scourge as a “cancer vexing the nation”.
“Government has been sitting on the Psmas audit report that was concluded as way back as February this year and showed the institution’s (former) CEO Cuthbert Dube’s profligacy without acting on it.
“I don’t understand why there has not been any action taken.
“I hope the House will be united in having the minister involved coming here to account for the money he got.
“We also need to establish the culpability of Psmas in approving Dube’s over $500 000 monthly salary and allowances so that we can act on them if they did, but if they did not then Dube should be pursued in his personal capacity,” Cross said.
He also cited corruption cases at Nssa and in the financial services sector where depositors have lost their hard-earned money as banks collapsed, expressing disgust that no one has ever been arrested.
Although Parirenyatwa has defended his dealings with Psmas, saying it was a common practice in the medical fraternity, he has come under fire from various stakeholders who accuse him of abusing his public office for personal benefit.
Parirenyatwa’s troubles started when he, together with Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, allegedly forced the Psmas board to reinstate its suspended managing director, Henry Mandishona. Daily News