Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

PSMAS bosses squander millions on designer suits, slacks

By Robin Muchetu and Brian Chitemba

Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) is said to have splashed a jaw-dropping US$3 million on designer suits for top executives, fuel and curious information communication technology (ICT) upgrades at a time when its client’s medical insurance was being rejected by service providers.

Mr Arthur Choga

The company is alleged to have spent more than US$75 000 on designer suits for company managers, including buying ladies’ fashion coats, casual shirts and slacks for two employees. The company also shelled out more than US$100 000 on fuel for board members, management and staff.

It is, however, the ICT upgrades that haemorrhaged the company the most. Documents show that on June 2 2017 then-managing director Engineer Tendai Kapumha signed for ICT upgrades worth $2,6 million (through PSMAS purchase number 22122), of which US$1,1 million was to be paid in advance.

A sum of US$2,4 million was also paid out to Frolgate Technology for supply and installation of new data cabling infrastructure, while US$2,7 million was used to buy other ICT consumables on November 22 2017. Further, the medical aid company was charged US$60 000 by Checkpoint Health for a mobile app and website development. The company also doled out US$30 425 for the construction and design of an exhibition stand at the Zimbabwe Agricultural show on August 17 2017.

PSMAS spokesman Mr Arthur Choga, however, defended the expenditures.

“As for the ICT system, we did not just wake up one day and said we were going to buy one. It is something which was discussed and planned over a five-year period. A lot of positive things happened between then and now. We have improved efficiency and mended relations with our stakeholders. We also cut our legacy debt by $17 million before the price madness,” he said.

Sunday News is also in possession of a document compiled by workers which details the alleged malpractices which border on gross abuse of office. The originators of the document have implored Government to investigate issues raised.

“We only bought 10 new ambulances to increase our old ailing fleet, yet we should have bought at least 40 ambulances. We now have ambulances that break down while carrying patients. In the mornings some ambulances are pushed, yet we are busy buying expensive cars. This shows lack of business acumen or a board that does not care at all.

“The company has disbursed over 250 luxurious cars. We are not in the transport business but surely this is pathetic to have such a huge fleet for a company yet pharmacies are

empty, no reagents, it is pathetic yet management is concerned with luxurious lifestyles. In 2010 executive directors through their manager went on a spree to purchase old second hand vehicles from Japan wasting company resources.

Most employees got cars as old as 10 to 15 years by 2010 yet the cars were first used in 1995 to 2000, but they went ahead and bought employees such old cars with high prices which could have bought newer cars,” reads the report.

It added that management went on to buy themselves new cars such as Prados, Toyota Land Cruisers, Jeep Grand Cherokees, Nissan Navaras, Fortuners and Mercedes Benz.

“In 2017 the company went on to buy brand new cars from their suppliers and the selection of suppliers was not flighted in the media.”

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health Dr Ruth Labode is alleged to be a supplier of drugs to PSMAS members via Apple Pharmacy which is she is allegedly a shareholder. According to the document, Dr Labode is acting in conflict of interest.

“It is a conflict of interest for Apple Pharmacy to have a Service Level Agreement with PSMAS to sell drugs to PSMAS members as the owner is the chairperson of the Health Parliamentary Portfolio Committee. She cannot investigate corruption as she is also a service provider,” read the document.

Contacted for comment, Dr Labode said Apple Pharmacy was a family business and there was no conflict of interest as alleged.

“That is a family business which is run by Mr Labode my husband, I am not the only one who supplies drugs to those clients, we are contracted by PSMAS and there is nothing wrong with that. But if people feel like he should withdraw his services he can do it,” she said.

Mr Ayo Labode, a pharmacist said he was indeed supplying drugs and there was nothing wrong with that.

“I have been running that pharmacy since 2001 and I was the first one to service PSMAS, Dr Labode only went to Parliament in 2014 so how does that influence my running of the pharmacy? Again a doctor cannot run a pharmacy, only a pharmacist can,” he said.

The document further claims that unqualified people have been employed to management levels in the organisation yet there well deserving people that have been deprived of opportunities. The company is also alleged to have purchased obsolete X-ray and CT scanning machines purported to be new machines. A PSMAS board member who asked not be named said the company was addressing some of the issues raised. Sunday News.