Govt pursues Psmas malfeasance

PSMI board chairperson Wellington Tutisa

A FORENSIC audit on Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) has exposed details of rampant corruption and looting by Zimbabwe’s politically connected few, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

The audit covered the period 2018 to July 2022.

Government, which controls the troubled medical aid society, has maintained a tight grip on the results of the investigation for over six months.

But in several interviews, sources said it uncovered evidence of deeper governance deficiencies, which led to disagreements at board level, and the abandonment of a crucial annual general meeting in 2020, as the medical aid society struggled to survive.

At the time, Psmas board members also resigned en masse citing dysfunctionality.

The Independent was also told that Psmas’  parent company, Public Service Medical Investments (PSMI) — which collapsed in 2021 — had been literally “captured” by service providers, many of them government bigwigs with interests in the health system.

They said tough actions by government in the past few weeks were only a small part of a broader crackdown to come, as authorities battle to bring sanity at the institution, whose service is extended to mostly civil servants.

Police recently arrested PSMI board chairperson Wellington Tutisa and his deputy Cecilia Alexander for allegedly expending US$900 000 and more than ZW$14 million on luxurious holiday allowances.

Harare regional magistrate Stanford Mambanje on Tuesday released them on ZW$400 000 bail each, with stringent conditions.

The arrest and prosecution of the two, sources said, were part of government efforts to implement recommendations from the audit.

The sources said the audit exposed hair-raising collusion between service providers and medical aid societies. There were indications that the net would be cast wider to include medical service value chain.

The revelations, which were this week confirmed by Psmas managing director Nixjoen Mapesa followed government’s injection of ZW$20 billion (about US$17,8 million) to revive the operation.

“The government called for a forensic audit to stop the haemorrhaging of the Psmas through fraud and sleuth,” Mapesa told the Independent. “Government has already started implementing some of the recommendations from the audit and we have received funding towards that goal.

“We used to treat PSMI preferentially in paying for their claims but when the contributions were eroded by inflation, it was decided to treat all payments in equal measure.

“In February 2022, the level of claims from PSMI was no longer adequate to cover costs and by June last year, they could not pay their workers.

“We released funding towards salary arrears for employees at Psmas on November 17, 2022, but the bill rose by end of that month,” he added.

Mapesa said he was not privy to the audit’s results.

But a source said the crackdown was looming across the medical value chain, with authorities planning to prosecute those found guilty of running down the institution.

“The Government of Zimbabwe, as the regulator, will take decisive measures against these organisations and use all lawful means to bring all culprits to book,” one source said.

“All medical aid societies, health services providers and suppliers involved in these malpractices will be brought to book.”

The sources said the government’s moves have sent jitters in the industry.

“For years medical aid societies and patients have alleged unfair practices. These include billing for services not provided and overpricing, among others,” another source said.


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