Zimbabwe: Unions say government seeks to take over civil service medical aid scheme

Plans by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take over the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) are at an advanced stage, union leaders have claimed.

The General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPTSU), David Dzatsunga, has revealed developments in the ongoing strike by health workers over poor pay and harsh working conditions.

The ZCPTSU is an apex body for public service unions.

“There is also another problem that has arisen. The government wants to take over PSMAS, our own project, which we started as workers.

“Where will we get treatment if they take it away from us,” Dzatsunga said.

PSMAS is a mutual owned by its members from the public, informal and private sectors.

Employees in these different sectors of the economy have different internal arrangements with their employees on the payment of medical aid subscriptions.

“The PSMAS are going to hold their general assembly on the 30th of this month, so we have to go there and stop them from doing that. We have to demonstrate like we are doing here,” Dzatsunga said.

He insisted that all public sector workers should continue to reject the 100% pay rise offer.

“We have no other choice because we cannot operate at the poverty line. We are professionals.

“So we don’t want the $540 we originally asked for anymore, but $840,” he said.

The head of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA), Enock Dongo, said they were summoned by the Health Services Board (HSB) on Monday after 14 months of ignorance.

“There was nothing on the table for us as health workers, which is why we are here today to give feedback.

“We’re troubled because we’ve written about seven letters to them in the past 14 months and they haven’t paid attention.”

Asked about the current situation inside hospitals, Dongo said it was worrying.

“It’s a pathetic scenario, where we have most health workers outside the hospital and what that means is there’s a disaster in there.

“That means patients are stuck in the hospital. They can’t get the services they need,” he said.