More heads roll at PSMAS

Cuthbert Dube

Cuthbert Dube

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter—
Premier Service Medical Aid Society has suspended two more senior managers after it was discovered they were irregularly employed by suspended managing director, Mr Henry Mandishona, who is facing allegations of mismanagement.Mr Mandishona had started assembling his team following his appointment in May before he was suspended earlier this month by a new board at the medical aid society.

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His suspension and that of Mr Farai Jemwa, the head of human resources, and Mr Elliah Madondo, who heads finance, came as thousands of PSMAS members thought sanity would soon prevail at the society.

Sources said there were allegations that Messrs Mandishona, Jemwa and Madondo were associates and came from the same village in Chikomba. PSMAS members have been prejudiced through shoddy service and their woes worsened after it was revealed in early 2013 that former group chief executive Dr Cuthbert Dube was earning more than $500 000 per month in salary and allowances.

Dr Dube’s managers were also getting mega salaries which when combined prejudiced the medical aid society of millions of dollars at a time it was failing to pay service providers, resulting in members being denied medical attention. Mr Madondo and Mr Jemwa were employed by Mr Mandishona soon after he took office in May.

In an internal memo dated September 10, 2015 and addressed to all PSMAS employees, acting PSMAS managing director Dr Nicholas Munyonga said he had asked Mr Madondo to leave the society because his appointment was irregular. “Taking note of the board’s documented position that the appointment of Mr E Madondo as head of finance was irregular, I have asked him to leave the society until further notice,” reads the memo.

The suspension letter to Mr Jemwa read: “I write to advise you that at its meeting held on 15 September 2015, the society’s human resources and nominations committee resolved that your appointment as head of human resources was irregular in so far as it was not sanctioned by the committee and or the Premier Service Medical Aid Society Board.

“The committee further resolved that in the circumstances, you be asked to leave the society with immediate effect and be away until you are advised otherwise.” Mr Madondo was served with his suspension letter on September 9, a few days after taking up the new post. He had just returned from Lesotho where he was previously employed. Mr Jemwa had served about two months with the society.

PSMAS public relations manager Mr Arthur Choga confirmed the suspensions, saying the society’s human resources and nominations committee was handling the matter. “A lot of irregularities were discovered in the engagement of these employees,” he said. “The board’s human resources and nominations committee is handling the matter. Once an official position is arrived at, taking note of all the salient facts, same will be communicated to the two employees.”

Mr Choga could not spell out the irregularities concerning Mr Jemwa and Mr Madondo’s appointments. Sources however said the board was irked when it was discovered that Mr Mandishona was recruiting his associates to the medical aid society.

“We hear that they come from the same village, with Mr Jemwa being closely related to Mr Mandishona,” said an inside source. Mr Jemwa wrote to PSMAS on Thursday last week seeking clarification on his suspension.

“Can you kindly clarify whether I retain my employee status during this period of absence and if so the terms thereof,” he said. “In addition, I request some indication as to when a conclusive decision will be made concerning my return to work or otherwise.” Mr Jemwa questioned the legal instrument PSMAS used to effect his suspension.

Mr Madondo could not be reached for comment amid reports that he had flown back to Lesotho. Mr Mandishona was sent on forced leave at the beginning of this month, accused of multiple acts of misconduct in relation to his office, barely four months after he took the position at PSMAS. Dr Dube and the society’s board chairperson, Mrs Meisie Makelotso Namasasu, were forced to step aside after their financial abuse were unearthed. Subsequently, the whole board of directors resigned, leaving Government to appoint an interim management to restore normalcy at the society.

The interim management served for 12 months, leading to the recruitment of Mr Mandishona and subsequently the appointment of a new board in July chaired by Mr Jeremiah Bvirindi.