AS is often the case, innocent government workers are bearing the brunt of the frenzied orgy of looting, corruption and deliberate mismanagement by company bigwigs and their political connections at the country’s largest health insurer, Psmas.
Candid Comment by Stewart Chabwinja
They cannot access medical attention despite the contributions deducted monthly from their modest salaries.
This week the shenanigans at Psmas — where government and Psmas management are locked in a battle for control over the troubled medical aid society — took a new twist with the strike by PSMI doctors over non-payment of salaries, and the firing of suspended CEO Henry Mandishona for a slew of misdemeanours which would be shocking were corruption not now a way of life.
While accusations and counter-accusations are tossed between government and Psmas as the fight to control the haemorrhaging society continue, amid the suspension, reinstatement, suspension and firing of Mandishona, civil servants who make up 80% of the society’s membership, are being trampled on. As untouchable top government officials gorge on Psmas, nearly a million beneficiaries are being denied treatment and drug facilities unless they have cash up front, precisely the scenario they joined Psmas to avoid.
It is an all-too-familiar story where those placed in positions of trust and influence betray the confidence bestowed upon them to line their pockets and lead lives of sickening opulence, in a country where poverty has become the norm. There is a familiar thread running through the sordid tale of closure of indigenous banks, poor service delivery by local authorities, the crumbling of Zupco, Nssa’s bungled investments, the collapse of state parastatals and the general crumbling of the economy, to name few.
Suffice it to say, the protagonists place self-interest — which manifests itself in a culture of accumulation — ahead of the commitment to serve.
As they say, the law is an ass: many of those fingered in audit reports as having sucked the blood out of organisations or firms have largely escaped scot-free, sometimes with a golden handshake for good measure. Others, in most cases because they are well connected to the ruling elite, have merely been transferred to other posts where they have wreaked more havoc.
Elsewhere in this paper, we reveal government owes Psmas US$186 million in employer’s contributions despite deducting the funds from civil servants who have become pawns in the Psmas-government face-off.
It would thus come as insult to injury for Psmas members that Psmas chairman Jeremiah Bvirindi has declared: “We are now being forced to implement a clause in our constitution which states that those who do not pay will not have access to medication.”
But the finger-pointing and holier-than-thou attitude between government and the Psmas must stop so that constructive discussions are held to pull the society back from the brink as its current financial position is untenable. That way the interests of its members, its raison d’etre, would be served.
First, the looting by the ruling-party connected must stop.