More bad news for Samwumed’s beleaguered provisional curator
The acting registrar of medical schemes is asking the Western Cape High Court to remove Duduza Khosana, the provisional curator of Samwumed, who the same court appointed in May, at the registrar’s behest.
The registrar’s application is the second application seeking her removal. In August, Andre Maxwell, the scheme’s former deputy chair, lodged an urgent application seeking her removal or the curtailment of her powers on the grounds that her actions were causing irreparable harm to the 80,000-member scheme for unionised municipal workers.
Dr Sipho Kabane, the acting registrar, recommended that the court appoint Khosana when he applied to put the scheme under curatorship in May. Khosana was previously the principal officer of Medshield medical scheme, which was placed under curatorship in 2012 after an investigation revealed the scheme had entered into a broker management agreement that had no value to the scheme.
The urgent applications to remove or curtail Khosana’s powers will be heard on Tuesday.
In an affidavit to the court last week, Kabane said Khosana had failed to submit to him one of the two monthly reports on Samwumed, a proper project plan and recommendations as well as the steps being taken to address the concerns that led to the scheme being put under curatorship.
Kabane’s affidavit said that Khosana also did not provide him with the names and fees of providers she hired, nor did she declare any conflicts she had. She also failed to provide supporting documents to substantiate conclusions made in her report about a computer forensic report, the affidavit said.
In Maxwell’s urgent application to remove Khosana, he alleged senior staff of the self-administered scheme have been suspended because they opposed the provisional curator, staff are demoralised, call centre productivity has declined, scheme contracts have been cancelled to the detriment of the scheme and proposals to amend scheme benefits are likely to exponentially increase contributions.
Maxwell and 12 other trustees are opposing the curatorship application, arguing it was unnecessary.
In Khosana’s reply to the former trustees’ opposition to the curatorship filed in the court, she said she faced "a climate of hostility" when she arrived at the scheme and "had to hire trusted assistants" to help her.
Khosana’s affidavit said she has been discharging her duties diligently with regular reports to the registrar. She said her "attempts to steer the scheme into calm waters are being blocked or undermined by disgruntled persons with vested interests".
The scheme has entered into contracts that raise concerns about the best interests of members and competition issues, Khosana said. Her affidavit also highlights that the audit committee, of which Maxwell was a member, was conflicted and failed to comply with the Medical Schemes Act.
The provisional curator also alleged that she has been meeting interest groups such as Rand Water to prevent a mass walkout of members who regard the scheme as providing no real benefits other than state hospital cover.
The five senior staff, including the principal officer of 17 years, Neil Nair, have been suspended and are facing a variety of charges ranging from sexual harassment, insubordination, obstructing the provisional curatorship process, lying and concealing information, and intimidation of staff, Khosana’s affidavit reveals.
The scheme was put under provisional curatorship because Kabane said the scheme’s board was dysfunctional. The scheme’s rules provide for nine trustees from the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), but factions within the union led to conflict over the appointment of those trustees.
Khosana’s affidavit said a winning faction was declared after litigation but the judgment is being appealed by the losing faction and "the prospect of a disrupted AGM still looms large".
The application to permanently appoint a curator to Samwumed has been postponed to October.