FINANCIALLY-BELEAGURED Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) says it will jettison a ruling by an arbitrator compelling the country’s largest health insurer to cough up a staggering US$900 000 to compensate sacked managing director Henry Mandishona, setting the stage for a bruising legal battle.
Mandishona, who has failed to secure alternative employment, had since resorted to demanding cash from Psmas. He was initially demanding a whopping US$2,5 million for back pay from his time of dismissal, including his benefits, three months’ salary for notice and damages for loss of employment.
However, Psmas has since said it will not pay Mandishona, a dismissed employee. This comes at a time the institution is struggling to pay its workers and is four months behind for its senior employees and three months behind for its junior workers.
A labour officer only identified as L Sigauke, on September 21, in a matter between Mandishona and Psmas through their lawyers Atherstone and Cook and Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana respectively, ruled that Psmas should pay Mandishona a total of US$855 712.
Mandishona was suspended and then fired by Psmas last year in September and November respectively. He was fired over corruption charges, including increasing his salary from US$13 000 to US$19 350, changing his motor vehicle entitlement and introducing the benefit of a cook, among other allegations.
Psmas communications and brand manager Arthur Choga said the decision by the labour officer is a legal nullity.
“Henry Mandishona was dismissed from employment following a decision by a properly constituted disciplinary authority of the society. Instead of appealing against the decision of the said disciplinary authority in terms of the law, he chose to institute a parallel process at the Ministry of Labour where, as expected, given the history of this matter, a decision was made in his favour,” Choga said in an e-mailed response to questions sent by this paper.
“The society’s position has always been that the parallel process instituted by Mandishona at the Ministry of Labour offices is a legal nullity. Be that as it may, merely out of a desire to put the whole drama around this matter to a logical end, the society has now approached the Labour Court where it believes real and substantial justice will be done. There is no justification, either legally or morally, for paying anything at all, to an employee who has been lawfully dismissed for gross misconduct, let alone US$855 715! This is the position that the society will defend by all means necessary.”
In his ruling, Sigauke said Mandishona had failed to get another job since his dismissal.
On January 29, Sigauke had ruled that all charges levelled against Mandishona were dismissed as he was not found guilty on the allegations and was entitled to reinstatement. However, Psmas has since refused to reinstate him and has written to him demanding the company’s car which he is still in possession of.
Mandishona accused Psmas of engaging in unfair labour practice by refusing to reinstate him and made demands which were different to those that led to the recent ruling.
He required his salary and benefits of six months which included his entertainment allowance at US$1 500 per month, fuel allowance of 450 litres per month equivalent to US$3 510 for the six months, his cellphone allowance at US$300 per month, home security allowance of US$7 500 for the six months, groceries/visa card allowance of US$6 000 for six months, reimbursement for his domestic workers, namely housemaid, gardener and cook at US$500 each for six months, holiday allowance and accommodation of US$11 114 as well as business class flights of US$24 800.
Sigauke, however, ruled that Mandishona is entitled to his contractual benefits for five months instead of six and is also entitled to his 60% bonus of basic salary as claimed, which totalled US$69 600. Not only is the institution too broke to pay Mandishona, but it has also been struggling to collect money from its debtors, including government which owes the medical insurer more than US$200 million in unpaid subscriptions.
Mandishona claimed damages of 40 months’ salary for loss of employment but it was ruled that damages of 30 months’ salary would be equitable, given that Psmas is a custodian of public funds. Mandishona was not reachable for comment as his mobile was constantly not reachable throughout this week.