‘We’ve a history of achievement’

By IAfrica
In Zimbabwe
Aug 27th, 2014
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President Mugabe hands over one of the several awards to PSMAS group public public relations executive Ms Mavis Gumbo while her colleague looks on

President Mugabe hands over one of the several awards to PSMAS group public public relations executive Ms Mavis Gumbo while her colleague looks on

Premier Service Medical Aid Society dominated the news headlines over high salaries and benefits early this year. Many contributors were shocked by the developments as they felt shortchanged. Last Friday, PSMAS scooped the highest number of awards at the Harare Agricultural show. Is this a sign of good things to come? Health Reporter Paidamoyo Chipunza (PC) spoke to PSMAS group public relations executive Mavis Gumbo (MG) on this and other issues.

PC: Premier Service Medical Aid Society has been in the news headlines for various reasons from triumph to slumber. Would you like to tell us more about PSMAS as an entity?
MG: Premier Service Medical Aid Society is the largest and most experienced medical aid service provider in Zimbabwe. We have been providing medical aid to our members for 84 years and we look forward to providing this important service for many generations to come. We have over 800 000 members and more continue to seek our services daily. Each member of the society means a lot to us and we value every single one.

PC: Of late, PSMAS has become known for the “salary-gate” scandal, how does this affect your success stories?
MG: Indeed, PSMAS was part of your coverage at the turn of the year.
It is inevitable, given the size of the society and its membership that there would be a lot of scrutiny. It is good to note that out of every adversity comes a strength, and PSMAS has learnt from the experiences of this period and is shaping a stronger and more efficient organisation which will be geared towards total member and stakeholder satisfaction.

PC: PSMAS now has an interim management, are there any notable improvements with regards to service delivery versus the welfare of top management since the appointment of the interim manager?
MG: The Interim manager spoke to your publication recently and addressed this issue.

PC: A lot was written on the welfare of PSMAS top management; please update us on their current status with regards to salaries and other benefits?
MG: A lot has been done and we can report that, in consultation with our regulatory authority and the relevant bodies, PSMAS is now fully compliant.

PC: PSMAS is a health funder as well as a service provider, how do you balance the two?
MG: There is a clear distinction between the two entities, and again this is one of the interim manager’s areas of mandate and there is a process underway which should address this question in the near future.

PC: The medical aid industry is going through a difficult patch owing to the current economic environment as well as the regulatory framework, that is, the new tariff regimes. How does this impact on your day to day running?
MG: Everyone has been affected in one way or another, but the test of an organisation is in its innovations and ability to succeed when things are not perfect. We have engaged our stakeholders and are trying to ensure that we have partnerships that work well for all involved. PSMAS is committed to being a good corporate citizen and will continue to play its part, no matter the state of the economy, to try and make sure that members get health care when they need it. That is our primary concern and we are determined to achieve it.

We believe that for the economy to achieve a turnaround, people need to be healthy and that is going to be our contribution towards the success of ZimAsset and the recovery of this great nation. By providing a healthy membership, we will play our part in ensuring that the sleeping giant that is Zimbabwe, rises to its feet and takes its rightful position.

PC: The triumphal side of PSMAS has seen it walking away with several awards from this year’s Agricultural Show. Tell us more about these awards and their relationship to the society?
MG: Exhibiting at shows and expos is a deliberate decision by the society. We take it as an opportunity to meet our members and to share new developments, hear their concerns and to get feedback from them outside the usual office environment. We exhibit primarily for our members and also to support the national cause, that is advanced by Agricultural Shows.

Winning awards is always special. From pre-school to church, to sport, winning an award means the organizers and the stakeholders have confidence in what you are doing and that they appreciate what you do.
This year we won six awards at the Harare Agricultural Show, and we dedicate these to our members who have stood with us as we went through tough times and who are the driving force behind our desire to excel.
Our stand at the show is symbolic of what we would like the PSMAS experience to be. Pleasant, friendly, relaxing and refreshing.

PC: This is not the first time that PSMAS was awarded for good work, tell us more about your previous achievements both at past agricultural shows and the ZITF?
MG: We have a positive history of achievement at shows and we are proud of this. Last year at the Harare Agricultural Show we won four awards and we retained two of those (Ahfoz, ZNCC and Borrowdale Brooke).
This year we added two more to the total including the inaugural Zimbabwe Institute of Public Relations Trophy, which means a lot to us to win the trophy in the year it was introduced.

Earlier this month we won a first prize in our category at the Mazowe Valley Agricultural Show in Bindura and we were runners up in Gweru and the Midlands Show and at the ZITF.

These placings give us confidence that we remain relevant in our sector and in the national plan and we are happy to receive them.

PC: What is the secret behind your success stories?
The secret is that there is no secret. It is down to teamwork, hard work, dedication and attention to detail.
While the public relations team takes the lead, each member of the exhibiting team has a huge role to play and each unit plays a significant role in making sure that all members get satisfaction, that each visitor to our stand feels valued and that we also learn from them as they learn from us.
More importantly, the support we have been receiving from the leadership of PSMAS, from the interim manager Dr Gibson Mhlanga, the entire interim committee and the Group Chief Operating Officer Dr Farai Muchena, has made it possible to put together the kind of winning                                                                                  exhibition we have at the Harare Show.

PC: What else is PSMAS known for besides being a health funder, that is, in areas of corporate social responsibility, e.t.c?
MG: At PSMAS we take our stated value of compassion very seriously. We engage in corporate social responsibility on a regular basis. We support various charitable causes run by member organisations and we are active in supporting the following:
Surgery and treatment for the underprivileged;
Sunscreen for people living with albinism;
Wheelchairs and crutches for the disabled;
Supporting various sporting activities through providing kits, financial packages;
Supporting stakeholder organisations with conference material etc;
Paying school fees for underpriviledged university students;
Providing support for prize giving days and sports days;
We give furniture to schools.

PC: Your parting note?
MG: Providing high quality service to our members is what we stand for, and we will not rest until that is achieved. We have set a high bar for ourselves and our members appreciate the kind of service they were used to. Let me reassure them that those good old days will be back. Sometimes to get to the finer ore, we need to endure days of digging. We have dug, we have started to unearth prizes and awards, and we will not stop till we reach the highest level of service delivery for our members. We thank them for being by our side through all we went through. Their trust and confidence in the society humbles us and we will always strive to value their health.

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