CMS Disciplinary Inquiry Head Recommends Settlement

The saga of Monwabisi Gantsho, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) registrar who was suspended by the department of health has taken a new twist. It has emerged that Nazeer Cassim, head of the commission of inquiry formed by the council to investigate Gantsho, was looking to end the case via settlement. The opening of this case increased the number of public service institutions that have been brought under scrutiny in South Africa recently. The council is a body enshrined in the constitution and charged with protecting the rights of medical scheme subscribers.

Last April, the Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi suspended Gantsho on charges of attempting to obtain a bribe. A curator who used to work with Medshield leveled the charges against Gantsho. But this was not the full scope of Gantsho’s concerns. There were also the matter of a R817,000 tax case against him that the South Africa Revenue Service obtained against him three years ago. Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), a law firm, was given the task of investigating the registrar during his suspension. Gantsho on his part countered the curator’s accusations by accusing him of favoring his own law firm when awarding business during his tenure in Medshield.

Monwabisi Gantsho Fat CatMeanwhile ENS have finished their forensic investigations and have submitted their findings in a report to the Council for Medical Schemes. The chairman of the council, Yusuf Veriava, has however not released the contents of the report to the public as he says this might interfere with the disciplinary inquiry into Dr. Gantsho. Veriava, while speaking to the parliament on the matter, neglected to mention that the disciplinary inquiry’s investigations had concluded on May 9th. Though the contents of the inquiry have not been publicised, each side, Gantsho’s lawyer and the council have a copy of the inquiry’s ruling.

The two sides have highlighted the parts of the ruling that favor them but the final recommendation by Cassim was evidently that the two parties should settle.He is in essence suggesting that since Gantsho is nearing the end of his term as CMS registrar, it would make no sense to continue with the inquiry, according to Lelethu Mbangi, Gantsho’s lawyer. Mbangi also intimated that he was in talks with CMS to sever its ties with his client on amicable terms at the end of June.

A spokeswoman for the council hinted that CMS had agreed with the decision but also that it would continue with the May 9th hearing if a settlement was not reached. But Dr. Gantsho expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which ENS carried out their investigations, terming it “seriously flawed”. He claimed that the terms of reference of the investigation and the forensic report were neither published nor submitted to his legal team. Gantsho also questioned his being singled out for investigation while the rest of CMS’s top brass were left untouched. For the inquiry to be free of bias and not a witch-hunt, he said that all internal CMS departments should have been looked into as well.