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Corruption echoes ring as Fundira pushes for Chikova NSSA return



NATIONAL Social Security Authority (Nssa) chairperson Emmanuel Fundira is abusing his position to ensure Dr Henry Chikova’s return to the statutory pension fund as its boss to revive a botched multi-million deal in which the pension fund lost US$10.4 million.


Ministry of Public Service sources say Fundira is pulling out all the stops for Chikova (pictured) to come back despite leaving the pension fund in controversial circumstances over the bungled US$10.4 million ICT social security system contract by local technology business solutions provider Twenty Third Century Systems.

As a result, the Nssa chairperson is demanding that the pension fund withdraw charges against Chikova emanating from the failed costly deal.

Simultaneously, Fundira is also trying to manipulate Nssa’s recruitment process for a new general manager to get Chikova appointed the next boss without following the required procedures, the sources say.

The Nssa chairperson has even gone to the extent of hiring his own team of human resources experts to manage the recruitment process to ensure Chikova gets the job.

Chikova left Nssa as director (benefits, schemes planning and research) and acting general manager under a cloud of controversy seven years ago — in January 2017 — having worked there for 22 years in social security administration, planning and research.

He was blamed for lobbying for Twenty Third Century Systems to get the US$10.4 million ICT social security system and subsequently presiding over its failed implementation.
As project director, he was responsible for the contract and its execution.

After the shoddy job, Nssa sued Twenty Third Century Systems and four others, including Chikova, for their roles in the deal.

Now Fundira is demanding that charges against Chikova be dropped. He has gone to the extent of pressuring the board and management to ensure that Chikova is cleared of the charges for him to be eligible to apply for the Nssa top job and revive the US$10.4 million.
Chikova has already applied for the post. The application deadline was 31 March and a new boss will be appointed soon.

Sources say Chikova has been assured he will get the job.

A document obtained by The NewsHawks, dated 15 March, shows how Fundira has been pushing for Chikova’s return and has ordered that acting general manager Charles Shava “do everything necessary” to implement the “chairman’s action”.

“The authority issued summons against Twenty Third Century Systems, Leadbake Enterprises, Blessmore Chanakira, Auxillia Danayi Munyeza and Dr Henry Chikova sometime in December 2020,” the document says.

“The claim was arising from Nssa’s cancellation of an agreement of supply of an ICT system. The board took note that the authority in January 2017 executed a retrenchment agreement whose clause 10 stated that the parties agreed to release each other from all claims, liabilities and obligations of any nature and kind attributable to or otherwise arising from the conduct of an employee during the employer/employee relationship.

“In light of the agreement, the board decided that the authority withdraws its claim against Dr Chikova.”

This shows Fundira is brazenly abusing office and power to drop charges against Chikova in a bid to hire him as the next Nssa boss to revive the US$10.4 million tender.

Chikova served as Nssa acting general manager before Elizabeth Chitiga.

Before the legal action, Mutumbwa Mugabe & Partners law firm wrote to Chikova asking him to show cause why Nssa should not institute a claim against him for the recovery of losses it had suffered due to the questionable US$10.4 contract and his equally questionable conduct.

At the time, Chikova led a Nssa delegation to Europe and, upon return, recommended TTCS get the tender.

“You were the head of the NSSA delegation which visited certain locations in Europe and upon your return, you reported that TTCS had fulfilled the said requirement. It has transpired that your report contained a falsehood in that TTCS had not been involved at all the sites visited by your delegation,” charged the lawyers.

“The misrepresentation caused the authority to contract with a supplier which did not have the requisite qualifications and has resulted in Nssa suffering heavy loss.”

The lawyers said the tender process violated section 7 (1) of the Procurement Regulations, Statutory Instrument 171 of 2002 as the contract was awarded without the authority of the then State Procurement Board or the chairperson of the agency.

“Further, there was no satisfaction of the cumulative requirements of Section 7 (2) (a) – (f). At all material times, you as the director of benefits, schemes planning and research, were the head of the user department of the social security system… As project director, you were responsible for the contract and its implementation,” said the lawyers.

Fundira is accused of brazen and corrupt abuse of office as he railroads the Nssa board, which includes Merjury Chinyemba, Tarusenga Chitemere, Shepherd Mundondo, Grace Mathe, Timothy Nherudzo, Chipo Ndudzo and Beatrice Ncube, into restoring a cancelled software system contract that cost Nsaa US$10 445 582.

He wants TTCS to be given a renewed IT system contract even if the company failed to deliver.

Nssa paid US$10.4 million for the system, but must now pay again to resuscitate it, with US$2 million immediately released to the same company which bungled the project in the first place.

On 7 December 2023, its board met with TTCS representatives to discuss the SAP system revival.

Nssa had acquired the system in 2013 for a cost in excess of US$10 million. Nssa paid for the system in full.

At the meeting, TTCS indicated it was ready to resuscitate the system at an estimated cost of US$1 880 000 and would require about 1 054 days to restore the system. The provision of annual maintenance would be 22% of the value of the software — which means about US$880 000.

Essentially, there is a raging dispute between Nssa and TTCS dating back to 2017.
In 2012, Nssa advertised a public tender for the supply and implementation of ICT social security system.

As a result of the bidding process, Nssa and TTCS signed a supply and implementation contract on 31 October 2013.

After that, Nssa paid TTCS a total of US$10 445 582.

Disagreements, however, erupted over implementation and the contract was cancelled.
Subsequently, Nssa sued TTCS in Hich Court case 7384/20 seeking a declaratur that the contract entered into by the parties was unlawful and invalid, and for restitution.

It is also suing Leadbake, Chanakira, Auxillia and Chikova in a bid to sell properties in Harare’s Borrowdale suburb which were used as collateral.

Liability on Chikova was based on his costly dereliction of duty.

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