By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
06 February 2014
As the exposés on corporate corruption continue to unravel, Presidential spokesman George Charamba has admitted to his ‘culpability’ in a looting scam that has rocked the Premier Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).
President Mugabe’s top aide also revealed that his boss was the PSMAS patron. According to a Wednesday Daily News report Charamba said that about 80 percent of the society’s contributors are civil servants, whom the government routinely struggles to pay.
Charamba’s admission came as it emerged that he sat on the board that approved the mega-salary and benefits of the leading medical aid society’s chief executive.
Reports said Charamba also sat on 13 committees of the PSMAS whose boss, Cuthbert Dube, earned half a million dollars every month.
However, according to the Daily News, Charamba sought to exonerate himself by claiming that he and his fellow board members ‘found the machinery in place.’ He said they did not ‘ask the right questions’ on the assumption that government policy was being followed.
Charamba further claimed that he was the least paid board member. But according to the Daily News revelations, Dube was earning $30,000 in board fees per month, which means Charamba could also have benefited. The report says Charamba not only served on several PSMAS subsidiary company boards but sat on key committees, which include the benefits, finance and budget committees.
MDC-T deputy National Organizing secretary, Abednico Bhebhe, said the involvement of Charamba at the PSMAS shows that Dube’s ‘corrupt salary’ was part of the broader corruption entrenched in the President’s office. Bhebhe said: ‘In my view Mugabe, whether he knew of Dube’s obscene salary or not, was most probably brought in to scare away any possible whistle blowing on the scam. ’ He added: ‘Dube cannot have been able to do all that without some people in that office working with him and protecting him.’
Bhebhe said Charamba , by virtue of being a board member, was part of the scam.
Revelations that Charamba may have benefited in the PSMAS salary scam puts another twist to the ZANU PF factionalism which is seen as the main driver of the exposés on ‘corrupt salaries.’ All along the exposés were said to have affected only those executives aligned to the faction led by vice President Joice Mujuru, leading to the belief that the other faction led by Emmerson Mnangagwa was instigating everything.
Charamba, who hails from Buhera, is said to belong to the Mnangagwa faction.