By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS)’s board whose tenure expires this month have launched a controversial multi million dollar rebranding exercise in order to save their jobs, Nehanda Radio can reveal.
Nehanda Radio has established that disgruntled employees have asked the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to investigate the organisation’s rebranding exercise. The employees risk losing their jobs and livelihoods after the rebranding exercise.
The rebranding exercise was launched on Friday with sources telling Nehanda Radio that the organisation established a new formation called MedicAid/FighterBrand at a time when ‘PSMAS and PSMI are failing to adequately stock their pharmacies and offer proper services.
An investigation reveals that the “illegal” multi million dollar rebranding exercise comes at a time when PSMAS members are failing to access medication and healthcare in most private pharmacies due to the medical aid society’s failure to pay on time the services rendered.
In a dossier submitted to ZACC, the alleged “perpetrators” behind “the sinister motive” to “loot funds under the cover of a rebranding” are PSMAS group CEO Dr. Farai Muchena, board chair Jeremiah Bvirindi, group legal executive and corporate secretary Cosmas Mkwesha, Ms Polite Mugwagwa, Mr Arthur Choga and Mr Nhamo Murandu.
“This is a plea coming from concerned PSMAS employees whose professional careers and integrity have been put in real danger due to the unlawful conduct and corruption at PSMAS.
“The corruption is being carried out under the cover of rebranding of PSMAS and formation of MedicAid/FighterBrand, (which is in fact a new company but to operate under PSMAS.)
“Several millions of USD dollars are earmarked to be gobbled through the supposed rebranding and formation of MedicAid/FighterBrand,” read the dossier.
In an interview, ZACC spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure admitted that the anti-graft organisation had received the damning dossier but declined to comment on the matter saying, “it is a matter still under investigation.”
Investigations by Nehanda Radio also revealed that PSMAS former Managing Director Tendai Kapumha who resisted the rebranding exercise had his contract terminated in February.
Last year Kapumha tried resisting a directive to charter an Air Zimbabwe plane to fly board members, executives, senior managers, and middle managers for a December 15-18 strategic meeting at a time PSMAS owed service providers a cascading consequence which resulted in the bulk of the society’s membership failing to access drugs and healthcare.
After the termination of Kapumha’s contract the medical aid society swiftly moved to carry out the rebranding exercise in the absence of a substantive managing director.
One of the employees at PSMAS who preferred anonymity fearing victimisation said, “Some of the key actors in this scandal have been fingered in previous scandals which rocked the organisation.
“They were also beneficiaries of millions of USD dollars of executive allowances outside payroll and unjustified board fees,” he said.
In 2019 the medical society’s board was being probed by ZACC for siphoning millions of dollars at the expense of service delivery.
The medical society’s subscribers, which then numbered over 700 000 were largely inconvenienced as service providers rejected their PSMAS medical-aid cards owing to rising defaults.
Another PSMAS employee who identified herself as Salom bemoaned that their “careers” were “in danger because the real people behind this (rebranding exercise), have got their footprints hidden” and “appoint others to stir these scandalous projects.
“In the numerous meetings we have held they have covered their tracks by giving verbal orders and making sure their signatures are not captured in any document.
“These verbal orders are not captured in the meeting minutes which has left us exposed to this sinister plan,” she concluded.
PSMAS communications officer Paidamoyo Chipunza however, defended the rebranding exercise saying, “this is not the first time that PSMAS has rebranded since its formation in 1930.
“Rebranding is a process done by any organisation whenever it feels its relevance is beginning to wane out and this is exactly the same process PSMAS has undergone, not only this time around, but even in previous years to remain relevant in almost 90 years.
“This rebranding exercise is, therefore, a brand that is responding to the feedback coming from its stakeholders by addressing their pain areas through a comprehensive rebranding process,” added Chipunza.
In 2015, Ernst and Young forensic investigation on the use of PSMAS funds addressed to the PSMAS interim manager Gibson Mhlanga, a total of US$2 438 000 was spent on PSMAS board directors’ remuneration.
George Charamba, current deputy Chief Secretary in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office, in 2009 received US$4 875 as board fees and allowances. In 2010 he received US$16 475, in 2011 US$34 166, in 2012 US$62 865 and in 2013 he was paid US$109 897.
George Chaburuka, who received US$558 163 in total, was the highest paid board member followed by Meisie Namasasu who earned US$451 484 and Newton Mhlanga who was paid US$364 505.
In all, the report concluded that PSMAS executives received US$86,9 million in salaries, bonuses and allowances between 2009 and 2013 at a time the company owed creditors US$119 million and was struggling to pay its workers. Nehanda Radio