Bridget Mananavire 28 June 2017
HARARE – Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas) board members faced
two hours of angry questioning at the annual general meeting (AGM)
yesterday, as they were forced to defend the company against accusations
of astronomical compensation for top management.
The board for Psmas – Zimbabwe’s largest medical aid society by
subscription – awarded themselves at least $50 000 each in sitting
allowances in 2016.
The board, chaired by Jeremiah Bvirindi, defended the expenditure saying
they had to hold several meetings as they were trying to solve the
long-running crisis and had to convene meetings with auditors.
“This is why we were saying we no longer want this board.
“If you look at these figures, you can divide and it’s clear to see that
each director is getting $50 000 per annum, we are educated and can see.
Whatever explanation you give, but it’s $50 000 per year? This is our
“Before you give us a breakdown, can you please justify the increase from
$431 989 in directors’ fees in 2015 to $601 738 of directors’ fees in
2016. Please justify, what sort of travelling did you do, and what results
came out of these expenses?” fumed Psmas member Tendai Chirawu.
“During last year’s AGM, we looked at the board’s allowances and you told
us that since it was your first year, you held several meetings.
“Now, the expenses are high and we don’t really understand why they are
up? We want results from you; we want members to be attended to when we
visit health institutions,” weighed another member, Enock Dongo.
Bvirindi said the fees were not for board sittings only but also covered
“The figure is not in relation to directors’ fees in terms of sitting
allowances, no, it also includes evaluation meetings, it also includes
even training, it includes meetings to do with reports, and the sitting
allowance is $400. The figures are there for inspection, anyone can see.
“The Ernest and Young report had a lot to do with governance. At the same
time, the board had to come up with this strategy and these are all
expenses over and above the board evaluation to make sure that we are in
the right direction,” he said.
Some of the members called for the dissolution of the board.
The current board took over after Psmas was rocked by disclosures of
astronomical compensation for top management, with its former chief
executive Cuthbert Dube, who was forced to retire, earning a monthly
salary amounting to over a quarter of a million dollars.
This triggered public outrage and government intervention given that most
of the institution’s 800 000-plus members are State employees.
The AGM was then adjourned to allow the courts to make a determination
whether the issue of the dissolution of the board should be included on
the AGM agenda.
“Notice of the AGM was given in January and on the 8th of June, MD
received a letter from legal practitioners representing a certain group of
members of the Psmas society to the fact that they wanted an item to be
included for the AGM; `dissolution of the current board’ for reasons they
stated in the letter.
“But this fell short of the strict terms of the Psmas constitution that
gives provision of a time limit of least 30 days before the meeting,”
Psmas board member Jameson Mukaratirwa said.
“Now the matter was taken to court and will be heard by Justice Priscilla
Chigumba on Friday at 10:30am.”