The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has called for the immediate suspension of the Sizwe Medical Fund curator Dr Ngubekhaya Gobinca.The union said this was based on unlawful transgressions and maladministration within the fund.
What were Gobinca’s major transgressions?
According to Numsa, Gobinca became a self-appointed executive and made far reaching changes to the constitutional structures, contracts and benefits of the fund without consultation with the members.
“He chose to implement these forced changes on the members without following the rules of the scheme and thus the Medical Schemes Act. It is unlawful to implement any changes or to attend then registration of benefits and contributions without giving the members of the scheme 30 days’ notice,” said Numsa.
They added that he also showed disregard for this rule both for the 2013 rule changes and then the irregular changes of the 8th of May. In these new rule amendments, he attempted to cover over his previous mistakes and make constitutional changes which could have dire consequences on the future governance and running of the fund.
“Members must be furnished with a copy of all such amendments within four months after registration thereof. Should a member’s rights, obligations, contributions or benefits be amended, he/she shall be given 30 days advance notice of such change,” said Numsa.
Numsa said Gobinca also effected an average increase in members’ contributions of more than CPIX plus 3%, without seeking members’ approval through a general meeting or special general meeting or by ballot. Numsa national treasurer, Mphumzi Maquango, said the average CPIX for 2012 was 5.6% and the curator’s average increase of 10.82% was way above 8.6% (CPIX plus 3%).
Rule 33.2 states that no amendment, rescission or addition which affects the object of the scheme or which increases the rate of contribution by more than CPIX plus 3% or decreases the extent of benefits of any particular benefit option by more than 20% of any financial year, is valid unless it has been approved by a majority of members present in a general meet or special meeting or by ballot.
“We are calling on the Registrar of Council of Medical Schemes (CMS) to act swiftly by suspending the curator before the wheels go off the rails. There is prima facie evidence against the curator, and an internal process must unfold to investigate these allegations in the interest of our members,” said Maquango.
What does this mean for members?
Heidi Kruger (pictured), head of communications of the board of Healthcare Funders in Southern Africa, said members’ concern should depend on the circumstances of a curator’s suspension.
“Should a scheme’s reserve ratio drop by 25% it should cause concern. But there are regulators to safeguard a scheme in cases like this. It is the also the trustees’ duty to keep an eye on what happens to members’ money,” said Kruger.
The CMS plan to meet with Numsa regarding these allegations.