- Published: 30 July 2014
- Written by The Zimbabwe Mail
Former Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) chief executive officer Cuthbert Dube allegedly bribed two board members with posh cars to have his salary increased, the Labour Court has heard.
In an affidavit deposited with the Labour Court in response to Dube's application demanding that he be paid his salary, a copy of which The Zimbabwe Mail has in its possession, interim PSMAS head Gideon Mhlanga said the Zifa president's actions bordered on criminality.
Mhlanga said after the December expose by the media of Dube's staggering salary, investigations were carried out and that the results unearthed were shocking.
"It came as a shock to the respondent (PSMAS) that while applicant (Dube) was in receipt of $92 000 monthly from the respondent, he was also secretly taking $138,000 per month from one of the respondent's subsidiaries. The total was, therefore, $230 000 per month that was reported in the press as part of what became known as the PSMAS salarygate scandal. The circumstances as unearthed, showed improper, if not criminal conduct on the part of the applicant (sic)," Mhlanga said.
The story of Dube's obscene salary was brought to the attention of the public, first by The Zimbabwe Mail upon which it triggered a chain of events that forced a shocked President Robert Mugabe to demand a schedule of all the country's parastatals and local authorities in what became known as the salarygate scandal.
The scam left the country transfixed as more shocking details of self-aggrandisement were revealed, including struggling local authority chiefs paying themselves huge allowances while failing to provide essential services.
Mhlanga also sensationally told the Labour Court that Dube bribed board members to get a salary increment.
"The respondent's board discovered that the applicant had, while in office, purchased as a bribe or some other improper consideration, two brand new Mercedes Benz E300 vehicles for two board members who had secretly approved his scandalous salary as described above. The applicant had, without board approval, purchased for himself a house in Glen Lorne, Harare for a sum of $1 593 523, inclusive of renovations and tax payments," said Mhlanga.
Mhlanga said contrary to assertions by Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba that the board then chaired by a Finance ministry's senior bureaucrat, Meissie Nemasasu, had been forced to dissolve itself after government threatened to withhold civil servants' contributions, the board had self-liquidated in shame.
In a supporting affidavit also seen by The Zimbabwe Mail, Luckson Zembe, who briefly served as interim chairperson following the dissolution of the then board, said Nemasasu had been forced off after revelations of abrogation of duty.
"When the respondent's board got to know that the applicant, in collusion with the then board chairperson, unprocedurally had his salary raised to $230 000 per month before allowances it felt betrayed by the applicant and the board chairperson in that they both had abrogated their duty of care to the society in line with good corporate governance fiduciary responsibilities," Zembe said. "The board resolved, among other things, to relieve the then board chairperson of her duties after it emerged she had betrayed the trust and confidence of the board in her capacity as chairperson by colluding with the applicant to approve his abnormal and unreasonable package without seeking approval by the full board aforesaid."
Dube, according to Mhlanga, also in the course of a single year (2010), illegally accessed from PSMAS coffers $815 000, allegedly for medical treatment "without tendering any proof of such treatment".
"Applicant irregularly gave Buymore Investments in which he has a controlling stake a contract to supply meat and meat products to respondent's canteen, resulting in payments in excess of $245 000 being made to it," averred Mhlanga.
Between April 2010 and September 2013, Mhlanga told the Labour Court that Dube accessed PSMAS funds totalling $285 000 "as travel and subsistence allowances" while conducting the business of Zifa, "which organisation has no links of any nature with the respondent".
Under Dube's watch, Mhlanga told the court that PSMAS accrued a tax debt of more than $60 million, a fact Dube kept away from the board.
"Other misdemeanours, both great and small, continue to be unearthed on a daily basis since applicant vacated office.
"When the issue of applicant's scandalous salary was unearthed, he was engaged in talks and an agreement was reached to reduce his salary from $230 000, initially to $60 000 (January 2014) and ultimately to $43 000 (February 2014). There are witnesses to the deliberations and the agreement," said Mhlanga, adding that Dube was a larger than life character in his own right who was paid his dues after the agreement and voluntary retirement.
Mhlanga averred that Dube had, by bringing the matter before the Labour Court, jumped the gun because the dispute "ought to have been referred to a Labour Officer in terms of Section 93 of the Labour Act for conciliation".
"Only in the event of there being no settlement would the matter go to arbitration from which the matter could then come to the Labour Court on appeal on questions of law," he added.
Dube has approached the Labour Court seeking relief for salary arrears owed him by PSMAS since his suspension. The matter is pending before the court.