SPOT­LIGHT ON TRUSTEE VOT­ING PROCESS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PERSONALFINANCE -

can glean that he is self-em­ployed with 28 years ex­pe­ri­ence in bud­get­ing, plan­ning and de­vel­op­ing busi­nesses and that he has a le­gal BCom and an MBA.

But be­yond that, and prom­ises to make sure the scheme is sus­tain­able and that all plans are eq­ui­table to all mem­bers, and to look out for your fam­ily, how can you be ex­pected to know if the man is good for the job of trustee? Es­pe­cially after the scheme’s chair­man, Michael van der Nest, took mem­bers at the AGM through the trustees’ re­mu­ner­a­tion and gave in­sight into the hours of work that is re­quired from them.

Egdes had wanted to send an elec­tion man­i­festo to all DHMS mem­bers ex­plain­ing what he would do for them as a trustee of the scheme.

Van der Nest ex­plained how, prac­ti­cally, this would be al­most im­pos­si­ble, be­cause the scheme could not give can­di­dates stand­ing for elec­tion the con­tact de­tails of mem­bers with­out vi­o­lat­ing pri­vacy pro­tec­tion laws. For the scheme to send can­di­dates’ man­i­festos to all its mem­bers would be ex­pen­sive and ad­min­is­tra­tively bur­den­some. The scheme would have to en­sure it was fair to each can­di­date and mem­bers may want to ask ques­tions about the man­i­festos, he said.

Al­ready the AGM cost the scheme R13.3 mil­lion, of which R5.7 mil­lion was in print­ing costs alone, Van der Nest said.

Egdes point was echoed by an­other mem­ber, who rightly pointed out that to do a proper job of elect­ing a trustee who has a lot of fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­ity, you need to know the trustees.

He said if cam­paign­ing wasn’t the right way for can­di­dates to make them­selves known, there should be some way of test­ing the can­di­dates’ ar­eas of ex­per­tise.

Egdes also made al­le­ga­tions about em­ploy­ees of Dis­cov­ery Health be­ing forced to at­tend the AGM and “stuff­ing the bal­lot box” with votes in favour of can­di­dates ap­proved by the ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Jonathan Broomberg, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Dis­cov­ery Health, cau­tioned Egdes against mak­ing “un­war­ranted and un­founded al­le­ga­tions” in a pub­lic fo­rum and ex­plained that Dis­cov­ery Health em­ploy­ees are mem­bers of the scheme and en­ti­tled to vote for trustees at the AGM.

The Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes head of com­pli­ance and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Stephen Mmatli, was at the meet­ing, keep­ing an eye on pro­ceed­ings. Mmatli has been at­tend­ing the AGMs since 2013, when Dis­cov­ery Health was first ac­cused of so­lic­it­ing votes from mem­bers for cer­tain trustee can­di­dates.

The coun­cil in­ves­ti­gated the ac­cu­sa­tion then and is­sued a di­rec­tive, against which DHMS ap­pealed. An amended di­rec­tive to change the scheme’s rules has since been im­ple­mented and the scheme com­plied with it this year. The di­rec­tive was, ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, in line with a draft no­tice pub­lished for com­ment in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette last year. The draft no­tice pro­poses that it will be an un­de­sir­able busi­ness prac­tice for of­fi­cers of the scheme or any ser­vice provider or its em­ploy­ees to be in­volved in the elec­tion of trustees, or to cam­paign for votes or prox­ies, or to in any way in­flu­ence mem­bers to vote for cer­tain can­di­date trustees.

The coun­cil re­ceived very lit­tle re­sponse to the doc­u­ment, be­cause schemes were fo­cused on the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion’s health mar­ket in­quiry. Ear­lier this year, it re­pub­lished the draft no­tice for com­ment. The dead­line to com­ment was re­cently ex­tended to July 8.

If you are un­happy with your scheme or its ben­e­fits, make sure you have your say at its AGM. A list of the dates of all the schemes’ AGMs can be found on the Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes web­site (http://www.med­i­calschemes.com/ Read­News.aspx?122).

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