Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Broke PSMI hospitals and pharmacies shutting down after ‘looting’

Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI)’s hospitals, clinics and pharmacies are closing down across the country after being looted of much needed resources by senior government officials.

The company has closed West End Hospital in Harare and Claybank Hospital in Gweru after failing to pay staff, including nurses and doctors, for three months.

“PSMI would like to inform its Valued Stakeholders on the temporal dosure of its West End Hospital Casualty Department until further notice. The closure is owing to internal processes that are currently underway.

“However, during this transitory, we shall remain committed to our mandate as we continue to fully care for all our patients admitted within the Hospital,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“PSMI would like to take this opportunity to share our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.”

Last week, PSMI blamed the crisis on “cash flow ceilings currently affecting the major client, Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).”

PSMAS, which was formed by civil servants, runs a medical insurance scheme for government workers. PSMI is PSMAS’ investment arm.

Problems at these institutions began a few years ago when government officials looted funds in broad daylight.

The PSMAS salaries scandal that came to be known as Salary gate implicated President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba among other government officials a few years back.

As a board member, Charamba contributed to the fall of the medical service provider by approving the exorbitant salaries to be paid to Cuthbert Dube, the former boss at PSMAS who was accused of defrauding the company over US$23 million and to board members.

Charamba also benefited himself by being paid an exorbitant board membership fee, a total of US$109 397,50 in 2013.

Charamba actually admitted stealing the money.

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“I agree, this is why, in fact, if the requirement is that we resign today, we would, because we failed Zimbabweans; we failed PSMAS and if we have to justify our continued stay on the board.

“We must be seen to be taking appropriate remedial action, I really admit that on that particular score, we did not ask correct questions and for that reason, we deserve to be condemned,” he said in an interview over four years ago.

Investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono on Monday wrote a thread on Twitter, articulating how the Zanu-PF government was contributing to the problems facing PSMI and PSMAS.

“The radiology, optometry and laboratories have also shut down due to this systematic looting of public funds that was allowed by Zanu-PF,” Chin’ono said in the tweets that were complemented by pictures of dilapidated furniture at PSMI clinics.

“These services are meant for very poor civil servants who now don’t have access to healthcare at all.”

He added: “This is the PSMI Hospital in Zimbabwe’s 3rd biggest city, Gweru.

“The gates are shut, meaning that the poor civil servants who continue to have monthly payments deducted have nowhere to get healthcare, because the public hospitals are also dilapidated & disused, no medication.

“Across the country PSMI hospitals are now ghost spaces. When we raise this systematic corruption and looting, we are called Western puppets by Zanu-PF.

“Falling sick is scary in Zimbabwe because nothing is working in the public healthcare system. Private life is extremely expensive.”

He also slammed the government of Zimbabwe for blaming sanctions for the economic problems facing the country. As a case study, the award winning journalist cited that, instead of improving health care facilities, the government was buying top of the range cars for health top officials at inflated rates.

“When citizens fail to access medical services that they have paid for due to the looting of public funds, the Zanu-PF Government blames sanctions.

“Right now there are no basic medicines in Zimbabwe’s biggest hospitals and no cancer radiotherapy equipment in all public hospitals.

“These Landcruisers belong to ZANUPF elites & bought by taxpayer’s money. Landed price is US$400,000.

“Zimbabwe’s biggest hospital only has 1 maternity theater built in 1977. To build 1 costs US$37,000. One Landcruiser can build 11 maternity theaters. Yet they blame sanctions,” he said.

Meanwhile, PSMAS executives that include chief executive Farai Muchena, Victor Chaipa, Cosmas Mukwasha, Shingai Mabuto and Tafadzwa Gutu are out on bail over corruption charges.