via Why is PSMAS board being protected? FEBRUARY 5, 2014 By Conrad Nyamutata NehandaRadio
Whenever a State institution triggers public outrage, it is important for government to institute effective remedial action. Failure to do so will erode public confidence in the institution, let alone the government itself.
Now, we are all aware of the public outrage occasioned by revelations of salaries at Psmas.
Cuthbert Dube, the group chief executive officer, was subsequently sent on retirement.
Curiously, his retirement age did not matter until the uncovering of his outrageous salary.
But the goings-on at Psmas after Dube’s departure would have been comedic if they weren’t just as outrageous. Here is a government that wants us to accept that only the chairperson of the board Meisie Namasasu was responsible for the aberrations at Psmas.
The rest of the board can carry on as normal.
A statement from the board said it had elected Luxon Zembe, an independent non-executive director, to be the Psmas substantive chairperson with immediate effect.
This is quite awkward. You have a board that presided over outrageous salaries at Psmas being allowed to operate as if it has nothing to do with the improprieties at the organisation.
Zembe has simply been elevated from ordinary member of the board to chairperson.
Only one member of this board George Chabururuka, a finance and administration director Higher Education ministry, has had the magnanimity to resign.
Why has this board been protected?
The board should assume, or be seen to have, collective responsibility.
The latest revelation is that Dube might own as much as 20 percent of PSMI, a key subsidiary of Psmas.
The board, according to the report, would like to know how such a huge stake fell into the hands of one employee and whether the equity was paid for or was part of his “incentives package.”
So here is a board that claims that, not only was it unaware of the obscene salaries at Psmas but was also ignorant of the ownership structure at PSMI, hence the investigation.
In other words, until last week, the board did not know the shareholding of a subsidiary of an organisation upon which it has oversight.
What do these events tell us about this board?
And yet the same board is to carry out investigations.
Look at the mess here: Newton Mhlanga, acting chair after Namasasu, did not get the substantive appointment because “there is a possibility that he may have been aware of, or possibly involved in, Dube’s acquisition of 20 percent of PSMI.”
Mhlanga, apparently, is still a member of the board.
The truth of the matter is that the entire Psmas board does not have any legitimacy.
Its position is simply untenable.
These people do not have any legitimacy to conduct any investigation on activities that might have involved them, as the suspicions about Mhlanga indicate, apart from overall dereliction of duty.
Last week, I said ministers should share blame for the current salaries’ outrage.
David Parirenyatwa, the minister of Health, is demonstrably indecisive and weak as the mess at Psmas demonstrates.
It is hard to understand why this board should be in place.
On the other hand, Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, has not only sought to undermine the mayor of Harare but has acted against public sentiment in the city.
He has reversed mayor Bernard Manyenyeni’s decision to suspend town clerk Tendai Mahachi for failing to provide the salary schedule for all senior council employees.
The long-suffering residents in Harare are naturally curious, and indeed angry, why Chombo would intervene to protect Mahachi against the lawful decision of an elected mayor.
In both cases, we see how ministers fail the people and appear to serve the interests of the elite, and possibly, their own.