Members of parliament have demanded an official enquiry into allegations that health minister David Parirenyatwa was bribed to the tune of more than $1 million to cover up the massive fraud at the troubled Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), which has left thousands of civil servants without medical cover.
The matter was raised in parliament by Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami, who accused Parirenyatwa of corruption after it emerged that PSMAS deposited more than $1 million into the minister’s private bank account.
Public service deputy minister and Zanu PF MP for Shurugwi South Tapiwa Matangaidze evaded the issue by demanding questions from Mutseyami in writing. Ministers routinely take ages to respond to written questions and often ignore them.
Speaker of parliament and Zanu PF de facto chairman Jacob Mudenda claimed some of the burning questions on the PSMAS fraud could not be addressed as the matters were before the law courts.
However, investigations by Now Daily show that Parirenyatwa has been dipping into PSMAS funds for more than a decade to prop up his private medical practice. Sources revealed that the minister regularly inflated invoices and billed the society multiple times.
Documents seen by this website show that Parirenyatwa abused his position to ensure that several of his friends, associates and companies linked to him got contracts to supply services to PSMAS and its members and subscribers.
The exchange in parliament went like this:
MUTSEYAMI: Hon. Deputy Minister, we are all aware of the fact that PSMAS is in great financial problems. As the Deputy Minister, may you please explain to this august House how PSMAS that is in such financial dire straits can pay a certain amount of money into a Minister’s personal account for the future free treatment of patients. Is that the correct procedure of paying before receiving treatment?
MATANGAIDZE: You will appreciate that that is rather a specific question in relation to a – [MEMBERS:Inaudible interjections.] – specific individual to a specific case. I would rather the Hon. Member puts that in writing to the specific Ministry that is involved.
SPEAKER: Hon. Minister, the import of the question is, is that Government policy to give loans by PSMAS to individual people?
MATANGAIDZE: Thank you Mr. Speaker, no, it is not Government policy.
MUTSEYAMI: If the Minister says it is not Government policy, how does it arise that the Minister is given a loan to his personal account for his private surgery, is it not corruption? How does he qualify that, if the Minister can be very generous for the nation to hear the truth?
MATANGAIDZE: It boils down to what I was talking about Mr. Speaker that it now becomes a very specific question because people will then need to delve into the merits of the matter to find out if the incident that he is alluding to actually happened. I propose that the Hon. Member puts it in writing and investigations will be made.
Earlier, Matangaidze had come under fire from Glen View North MP Fani Munengami over his ministry’s mysterious decision to reinstate Cuthbert Dube, who allegedly stole $1.6 million and committed fraud by inflating his monthly salary and benefits to more than $600 000. The ministry had suspended the errant manager for investigations to take place but ordered him to return to work after Dube sued Parirenyatwa and threatened to expose his dirty financial dealings in court.
Said Matangaidze:“Currently, we find that there are people who are taking Government Ministers to court. It is rather negative and retrogressive. I think people should allow due process to happen and clearly there will be stability at PSMAS.”
Matangaidze said a new nine-member board had been appointed, consisting of six state appointees. He also said six ‘arbitrators’ had been appointed to bring ‘stability’ to the society, but insiders said this was just another way for Zanu PF to pay its hangers on. Sources dismissed these measures as inadequate to uncover the theft of millions of dollars during Dube’s tenure and at a time when president Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba was a member of the overpaid board where members received allowances of $10 000 for every sitting.
Parirenyatwa has come under a firestorm of criticism over his handling of the PSMAS fraud, which was exposed after it emerged that Dube was paying himself $600 000 every month in salary and allowances. A parliamentary investigation has failed to take off, with some MPs blaming health committee chairperson and MDC-T proportional representation MP Ruth Labode, who is accused of being too close to the minister.
A statutory instrument issued by Parirenyatwa on PSMAS trying to soften Dube’s landing was declared unconstitutional by parliament’s legal committee.
© Now Media 2015. All Rights Reserved.