Unions’ bid to stop PSMAS forensic audit flops

The secretary of the umbrella body of civil service unions has failed in his bid to block the forensic audit of Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) after the High Court ruled his application did not meet the requirements of an urgent application and so the civil matter will now climb the roll in the ordinary way until it reaches a court hearing, almost certainly long after the audit is concluded.

Mr David Dzatsunga last week launched the High Court bid to keep out the auditors until the court determined the validity of the audit now underway at PSMAS.

Justice Munamato Mutevedzi on Wednesday struck the matter off the roll on account of lack of urgency.

Urgent applications are for any prompt action that may be needed to prevent irreversible damage to an applicant, such as an eviction, but even if the audit is ever found to be invalid, the process will not damage anyone.

Mr Dzatsunga, as the secretary of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Unions (ZCPSU), an umbrella trade union for all trade unions that represent Government workers, sits on the board of PSMAS as one of the three civil service representatives and was applying in his capacity as a board member.

In his urgent application, Mr Dzatsunga wanted the court to temporarily suspend the authorisation of the audit until the main application filed at the same court on the same issue was determined.

In the main application, Mr Dzatsunga sought to nullify the letters of April 4 and June 28, 2022, among other reliefs.

He was arguing that the letters were unlawful and violated his constitutional rights because they were written without jurisdiction or lawful authority.

The court application cited the Secretary for Health and Child Care as party to the pending litigation.

The audit is taking place against the background that PSMAS was allegedly deviating from its founding objectives, and had failed in successive years to fulfil its core mandate of healthcare service provision.

Currently, the set-up of the organisation has a holding company, Premier Service Medical Investments, a mining concern, a micro finance operation and other entities.

When the subsidiaries were created, they were supposed to be under PSMAS, but current proposals see attempts to set up a holding company under a board of trustees with that holding company owning all concerns, including PSMAS itself.

This means the PSMAS members, those who pay the subscriptions, will no longer own and run their own society.

The position has caused the regulator of medical aid societies, who can act in any medical aid society since they all have to be registered, to order a forensic audit at PSMAS.

The three employer representatives on the PSMAS board, who are appointed by Government as the employer and provider of 80 percent of member subscriptions, have since raised the red flag after they were sidelined on matters of the board.

The three are Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr Martin Rushwaya, representing that office, Mr Pfungwa Kunaka representing Treasury, which provides the bulk of the cash, and Dr Tsitsi Choruma representing the Public Service Commission, the employer.

Civil servants recently blasted their unions for trying, unsuccessfully, to blame the Government for the failures at PSMAS, which is supposed to provide medical aid for civil servants, yet PSMAS is independent of Government and belongs to its members, who are mostly civil servants.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Pubic Service Commission who were cited as respondents in the matter were opposing the application. Herald

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