PSMAS managing director gets police protection in boardroom war

HARARE – Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) managing director Nixjoen Mapesa and his family have been given police protection as a fight for the control of the medical insurance firm turns nasty, ZimLive can reveal.

Armed officers from the Criminal Investigations Department have been shadowing Mapesa and his wife, Tendai, to and from work after they received death threats.

Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “I can confirm that the PSMAS MD is under police protection along with his family. We cannot specify or give details of the reasons he is under our protection for security reasons.”

Mapesa, speaking to ZimLive on Thursday, professed ignorance about police guards.

“I’m not aware. Maybe they are shadowing me. If as you say the police said they are, I can only guess they are doing their job acting on whatever information they have,” Mapesa said.

Sources at PSMAS said Mapesa is locked in a bitter fight for the control of the company with PSMAS Group CEO Farai Muchena, a retired soldier.

Muchena said if Mapesa’s life is in danger, the threats had not come from him.

“I’m a professional, a business person and a leader. I’m not that kind of person. Don’t try to scandalise me,” he protested.

ZimLive understands the PSMAS fight is over the direction of the company and future investments. Mapesa, who reportedly has the support of health minister Constantino Chiwenga, is accused of blocking projects being championed by Muchena allegedly because he sees them as “avenues for looting.”

PSMAS has nearly a million subscribers, a large majority of them civil servants. The government recently announced it would give a bailout to the company after it defaulted on payments to service providers including hospitals and pharmacies. Chiwenga also ordered a forensic audit at PSMAS, he said to satisfy himself that “the society is operating properly and in keeping with its mandate.”

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