SPOTLIGHT ON TRUSTEE VOTING PROCESS
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).