Government is set to roll out the civil servants medical scheme after the High Court lifted an injunction health insurer Central Health Limited (CHL) obtained to stop its implementation.
The Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) in February circulated a memo, informing ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) that it is introducing a medical scheme under Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm), effective March 1 2021.
The initiative—to cover all public sector workers on voluntary basis—was set to adopt a phased approach, with the first cohort targeting civil servants in Grade D to H, according to the department.
But CHL on February 24 2021obtained an injunction stopping DHRMD, through the Attorney General, from implementing the scheme until “a judicial review or a further order of the court”.
In its application, dated February 24 2021, CHL argued that government introduced the medical scheme and handed the contract to its rival Masm “without open tender proceedings.”
However, the High Court, according to the Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU), which is part of the scheme’s strategic implementation institution, has lifted the injunction.
In an interview, CSTU general secretary Madalitso Njolomole said they are pleased with the injunction removal, saying it was hindering the progress of the project.
“CSTU is happy with this development and we are urging government to start implementing the agreed civil servants medical scheme accordingly. Honestly, we have been affected by the injunction,” he said.
The injunction has delayed the project by four months.
DHRMD spokesperson Ken Ntonga could not immediately project the new starting point.
He explained: “At the time of the stoppage, we had gone MDAs, and others had already started filling in and submitting forms to DHRMD.
“We will, therefore, continue from there. Hence, it is a bit early to estimate the actual rolling out day. Actually, at one point we will issue a deadline for receipt of all forms from MDAs.”
The Attorney General’s (AG) office challenged the CHL injunction and judge Kenyatta Nyirenda on May 10 2021ruled in its favour.
CHL had argued that the decision to award Masm the deal was “procedurally improper, illegal and unconstitutional for failing to adhere to lawful and procedurally fair administrative action as required by Section 43 of the Constitution”.
CHL also said the move was against sections 30 and 37(1) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.
But Nyirenda, in the ruling, said senior State advocate Lumbani Mwafulirwa proved that procurement procedures were followed.
The ruling reads in part: “The defendant has laid evidence clearly showing that its resort to single sourcing method fully complied with the (Disposal of Public Assets) Act.”