THE managing director of Premier Service Medical Investments (PSMI) Dr Tafadzwa Gutu is living large with a lucrative contract that sees him pocket US$23 000 a month in salary and allowances.
While the contract uses US dollars, the pay is in local currency at the payday interbank rate, but basically, the subscriptions from several hundred civil servants have to be used just to pay Dr Gutu.
PSMI is the investment arm of the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), which has been struggling to provide full services to its members.
PSMAS set up PSMI to own its hospitals, clinics and pharmacies but it now goes a lot further, amid indications that it is venturing into mining and microfinance businesses.
At present, several clinics are shut, pharmacies are often out of stock, and staff are still waiting for their June salaries.
PSMAS, and thus all its operational units, are funded through subscriptions from members, and most of these are civil servants.
In 2016, PSMAS was rocked by revelations that saw top management led by Dr Cuthbert Dube earning huge perks running into more than US$200 000 per month at a time the organisation, which was supposed to be a non-profit medical aid society, was then struggling to provide service to members.
According to conditions of service for Dr Gutu, which he signed for in March 2019 after he took over from Dr Farai Muchena who is now group chief executive officer of Premier Service Holdings Company, he is entitled to a basic salary of US$17 000 a month. In addition to the basic salary:
- Dr Gutu receives a special allowance of 20 percent of basic salary, or another US$3 400, to compensate him for not indulging in private practice as a medical doctor to avoid conflict of interest.
- Further, Dr Gutu receives a housing allowance of US$1 500 every month and an entertainment allowance of US$1 500 every month.
- He gets unlimited mobile phone allowance, he just hands in the invoice, has home internet, again just presenting the invoice.
- 500 litres of fuel a month, around US$850 if it is petrol or US$900 a month if he needs diesel.
- He gets three cars off PSMI, so needs the fuel for this mini fleet.
- Dr Gutu’s children can go to very good schools. PSMI will pay fees up to US$45 000 a year.
- Then he and his family can go on holiday, locally or abroad with US$1 500 a day per diem.
- The contracts have risen a bit since August last year. He now gets 600 litres a month and expenses like his school fees and security guard are paid from the invoice.
More critically, when his contract expires he will get a gratuity of 20 percent of his gross-earnings for the duration of the five-year contract, that is an entire extra year of salary and allowances. A payment of the equivalent of something near US$300 000 is a generous farewell gift.
When contacted for comment the PSMI board responded as follows: “As you are aware, the regulator (of medical aid societies) ordered a forensic audit which is in progress at the moment. Should any untoward or indiscreet things be happening in any area of the business then we are confident the audit will unearth it.
“Meanwhile, it would be prudent to just wait for the audit results, which will be out soon according to the regulator.”
One board member said while the contracts were in United States dollars, they were paid in local currency indexed to the willing-buyer willing-seller interbank rate.
Dr Gutu’s second in command, executive director corporate services Dr Shingayi Mabuto, is also well rewarded.
His basic salary is US$13 200 with a housing allowance of US$1 300 and an entertainment allowance of US$1 000, according to the March 2019 contract.
Dr Mabuto was the organisation’s finance director before being promoted to the post of executive director corporate services, which saw him pocketing these lucrative earnings.
His cellphone allowance is now paid in full when he hands in the invoices, so are school fees for his children, internet and security.
PSMI is headed by an MD with assistance from two executive directors and 12 directors, all with perks and salaries.
It was not clear by time of going to print how much the other directors were earning but general staff had since complained of their meagre salaries, according to a petition handed to Government pleading for intervention.
In their petition, the PSMI employees lamented that management was living large not only at the expenses of employees’ welfare, but also of service delivery resulting in closure of some facilities.
“Medical centres are poorly stocked without regulatory emergency medicines and sundries, rentals and utility bills are in arrears, regulatory licences for premises have been paid late after service withdrawal by employees.
“Employees’ salaries are in arrears with those entitled to contractual fuel to enable travel to work now owed more than 12 months’ worth of fuel,” reads part of the petition submitted to the regulator of medical aid societies.
As of yesterday, the employees had not received June salaries.
“Both the board and the management have failed to make PSMI relevant to PSMAS members. The board approves such contracts yet employees and patients are wallowing in poverty. This is a shame. They should just do the honourable thing and resign,” added another source.
Another employee said the finance department had directed all business units across the country to send all foreign currency received in payment to head office through Mukuru, and not use the banking system.
“If an organisation channels over 80 percent of its total revenue towards salaries, then what is left for service provision. This explains why their pharmacies are always dry because they never earn enough to sustain their operations,” said another source.
The source added that PSMI requires at least $1,3 billion every month to sustain its wage bill.
Contacted for comment last Friday, Dr Gutu said: “I think the matter was addressed (through remarks by his board). You will be aware that we work with a structure and that matter was attended to and we don’t want to delve into that again.”