The Sunday Mail
Brian Chitemba Investigations Editor
ONE of the country’s largest medical aid societies, Cimas, has been sucked into a messy nepotism and cronyism scandal. Deputy board chairman Mr Eben Makonese allegedly influenced the appointment of his unqualified brother-in-law as the group’s director of medical services.
Investigations by The Sunday Mail Business unearthed that Mr Makonese — who has been a board member for close to 20 years — played a pivotal role in the appointment of Mr Mafingei Nyamwanza — who is a brother to the former’s wife, Dr Madeline Nyamwanza-Makonese.
However, after Mr Nyamwanza landed the top post, it is alleged he in turn secured jobs for his cousin Mr Enest Samanga (human resources and administration manager) as well as other close associates Mrs Roselyn Magaramombe (laboratory manager), Mrs Sarapiah Sibanda (chief accountant), Mrs Sandra Mavuto (chief technologist) and Mrs Erica Chidziva (quality co-ordinator).
Apart from being cousins, Messrs Nyamwanza and Samanga are said to be hailing from Penhalonga, near St Augustine’s in Manicaland.
The key positions are allegedly being abused to manipulate tender processes and to undermine transparency and accountability in the company.
This comes against a backdrop of revelations that a vicious boardroom wrangle erupted at Cimas over alleged flouting of its constitution through the illegitimate appointment of some directors, some of whom work for related companies.
It emerged that Cimas board chairman Mr Mordecai Mahlangu’s law firm – Gill Godlonton and Gerrans Legal Practitioners – where he practises as a partner, won a contract to do work for the country’s second largest medical aid group.
As part of shady deals at Cimas, it is said seven of 12 board members were representing the same interests since they came from related companies — Delta, Old Mutual and CABS. Old Mutual has significant shares in Delta, while it owns CABS.
But new investigations reveal that Mr Makonese railroaded the Cimas board and management to land Mr Nyamwanza the influential post regardless of lack of qualifications.
Information gathered showed that Mr Nyamwanza holds a Specialist Diploma in Medical Laboratory which can only qualify him to be a head of department.
According to well-placed sources at Cimas, all the previous general managers of medical services were holders of Master’s Degree in Bio-Chemistry/Chemistry or a medicine degree because the medical services division is one of the key areas keeping the organisation afloat. Cimas used to have general manager for medical services before it was changed to director of medical services about eight years ago.
“Cimas is not being run professionally, we have board members creating fiefdoms where they plant their close relatives and associates in high offices even those without qualifications,” said a top official who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
Further, workers at Cimas’ Harare Dialysis Hospital are disgruntled over victimisation by management and long working hours with some getting shifts of up to 24 hours.
“Employees cannot raise complaints to their immediate bosses because most of the managers are in a closed circuit controlled by Mr Nyamwanza who in turn owes his allegiance to his brother-in-law, Mr Makonese,” complained the source.
The contentious issues have raised a stink at Cimas where already suffering service delivery may continue deteriorating at the expense of members who contribute millions of dollars monthly in subscriptions.
Cimas – Zimbabwe’s second-largest medical aid society – is owned by its members, handling millions of United States dollars monthly.
Approached for comment, Mr Nyamwanza declined to discuss the issues and refused to prove if he was qualified to be the Director of Medical Services.
However, Mr Makonese distanced himself from the appointments at Cimas, insisting he “had no role in the hiring of the staff”.