Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Confusion reigns supreme at Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) where the interim manager, Dr Gibson Mhlanga, has reportedly remained in control despite the expiry of his term of office on June 12.
Unconfirmed reports also indicate that Dr Mhlanga’s contract might have been extended by a further two-years.
Health and Child Care Secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji, who recommended his principal director for preventive services, Dr Mhlanga, to PSMAS as interim manager, last Friday said he was supposed to hand over all that he had done and recommend all outstanding issues to the new PSMAS and PSMI boards.
However, Dr Mhlanga said he was further tasked by the Office of the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, to carry out a forensic audit on PSMI, PSMAS’ investment arm, and so would stay at the medical aid company for a longer period.
Said Dr Gwinji: “According to our Statutory Instrument (330 of 2000) that function ended on the 12th, so whatever arrangement that has to come now it’s a new arrangement. But what we are saying is hand over to the new board, the board itself then carries on with whatever is remnant and has to be done. You do not necessarily have to prolong the interim management’s term of office because statutorily it ended on the 12th.”
Dr Gwinji said in line with that Statutory Instrument, Government had since recalled Dr Mhlanga to the ministry, but had also asked him to use the remaining days of the month to hand over what he had done in the past month to the new boards of PSMI and PSMAS for them to carry on with any outstanding issues.
“In our capacity as ministry, we wrote to the person that we appointed as interim manager to then hand over and come back to resume duties.
“PSMAS members themselves met and made certain proposals and it is that board now which should carry over what has been agreed by the members whether it is restructuring, formation of a new board for PSMI and further forensic audit for PSMI – so it is now the new board that is dealing with that,” said Dr Gwinji.
“So as far as I am concerned, the interim manager that has been appointed by the ministry has been recalled, and there is an official letter to that effect. That official letter then says use these days to hand over because you cannot just knock and leave.”
Dr Gwinji said as soon as Dr Mhlanga handed over to the incoming board, he was no longer mandated to continue involving himself in any PSMAS issues as the board resumed all duties.
Contacted for comment, Dr Mhlanga acknowledged that his term of office as interim manager ended and his benefits that came along with his contract also ceased.
Dr Mhlanga said he had since signed assumption of duty papers at the ministry.
However, he said he was still mandated to carry out a forensic audit at PSMI where he was chairperson during the interim management as instructed by the Office of the Chief Secretary (Dr Sibanda).
“The PSMI board as any other and according to the Companies Act has a three-year term. Following the instruction to carry out a forensic audit by the Chief Secretary, Dr Sibanda, at PSMI and the need to conclude the restructuring exercise at PSMI it is imperative that we see this process through,” said Dr Mhlanga.
He said together with his team they have to complete the adjudication of the forensic audit where six firms have already submitted their bids.
“Restructuring as well as salary rationalisation has not been started at PSMI. There is still a lot that needs to be done there though a lot of ground work has been done. For PSMAS, we had concluded the bulk of the work and I believe the new board will be able to consolidate the present gains,” said Dr Mhlanga.
Inasfar as forming a trust that will then form a holding company, which was one of the proposals adopted at the last AGM, Dr Mhlanga said they were finalising the registration of the trust with the Deeds Office.
“I expect that to be completed by end of next week. Thereafter, the trustees will hold their first meeting and strategise on the way forward,” he said.
Dr Mhlanga also said board composition of PSMAS was expected to be finalised within the next week.
PSMAS hit the headlines at the beginning of the year over issues of mega salaries paid to its top executive against a colossal debt which had ballooned to over $38 million as of December 2013.
This resulted in resignation of the society’s board members while the society’s group chief executive, officer Dr Cuthbert Dube, was also forced to step down paving way for an interim manager in accordance with SI 330 of 2000.