THE National Social Security Authority (Nssa) has presented its forensic audit which unearths corruption and names individuals implicated in the pensions fund’s latest scandals to the Office of the President and Cabinet, setting the stage for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to act, if he will at all.
Nssa is a US$1.2 billion statutory pension fund. It has 109 properties across the country. The current Nssa forensic audit was done by AMG Global Chartered Accountants (Zimbabwe).
It focuses on a wide scope of corruption issues, ranging from corporate governance, abuse of office and power, and self-aggrandisement at the expense of struggling poor pensioners.
Some of the critical issues involved include fraudulent property deals and acquisitions, abuse of office and duty, company vehicles, foreign trips and holiday allowances.
Nssa board members last year reportedly flew to Kenya — paying themselves huge allowances — for a week-long training workshop that could have been held locally to save money as pensioners continue to receive peanuts and wallow in poverty.
However, the elephant in the room is Public Service minister Paul Mavima’s US$400 000 Borrowdale house scandal which is part of the audit report, further providing evidence to a story first written by The NewsHawks.
The house involved is Stand No. 218 Lot A1 in Quinnington.
There is also the Kariba property scandal emanating from another fraudulent transaction by Nssa involving a commercial property in Kariba valued at US$220 000.
The property was bought for US$215 000 after negotiations, but US$244 000 was paid. In fact, US$240 000 was paid after charges. This means US$25 000 was siphoned.
At one point, Nssa officials claimed it was valued at US$360 000.
When other costs were added, the price went up to US$252 631.59.
Since Nssa usually pays round figures, US$300 000 was paid. The balance was purportedly directed to its investment account.
Nssa investments director Brian Murewa is on the run over those issues. He has escaped to South Africa.
The minister’s scandal has cast doubts about Mnangagwa’s seriousness in fighting corruption.
In the aftermath of Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia investigative documentary which implicated Mnangagwa together with his key aides and business cronies, the Nssa corruption issue puts the President into a new spotlight over his now increasingly discredited anti-corruption drive.
Mnangagwa’s critics say he should now admit — today, not tomorrow — that his so-called war on corruption is evidently not serious and hypocritical; a waste of people’s time and taxpayers’ funds.
As a result of his own involvement in some cases of corruption such as Gold Mafia and his ministers’ cases such as Mavima’s, critics say right away the President ought to end his anti-corruption charade and now focus on other things which he can do better.
State agencies such as the police, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and other constitutional bodies have failed to rise to the occasion to investigate high-level corruption.
Nssa, constituted and established in terms of the Nssa Act of 1989, [Chapter 17: 04], is the statutory corporate body tasked by the government to provide social security.
The Act empowers the minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to establish social security schemes for the provision of benefits to all employees.
Nssa is mandated to administer every scheme and fund that is established in terms of this Act, and to advise the minister on all matters on the operations of the schemes and on matters relating to social security generally.
While Nssa is governed by the Nssa Act, two schemes under its administration have their own legislation.
Current schemes are governed through Statutory Instrument 68 of 1990 which established the Accident Prevention and Workers’ Compensation Scheme and Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 for the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme (POBS).
The POBS is scheme a partially funded by a pay-as-you-go defined benefit (PAYG DB) scheme.
Both schemes are mandatory.
Nssa also administers the Factories and Works Act Chapter 14:08 and Pneumoconiosis Act 15:08 which deal with occupational safety and health in the workplace.
Nssa has two key subsidiaries: The National Building Society, a result of investment through the National Pensions Scheme Fund and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund.
It also has numerous financial investments.
Nssa has been in turmoil since last year when it was investigated by the Zacc and other arms of the state.
AMG did the forensic audit, now with Mnangagwa’s office.
Its general manager Arthur Manase is on suspension over corruption-related issues involving cars, a house loan and allowances.
There is also the issue a Borrowdale house — No.49A Borrowdale Road, Harare — that was renovated for Manase and housing loans and allowances.
Manase denies the corruption charges and claims to have been exonerated by Zacc.
He is also suing various media organisations over the issue, but insiders say he still has cases to answer and the audit does proves that.
Manase’s other issue specifically involves two cars: a Mercedes-Benz E53 AMG bought for him for US$178 000 and a Land Rover Defender for US$175 000.
Insiders say the Benz was converted to a personal loan in a bid to regularise an unprocedural and corrupt arrangement over condition-of-service vehicles.
Nssa assistant accountant Erasmus Mavondo was arrested last year and appeared in court on allegations of corruptly awarding Manase a personal loan to buy a top-of-the-range car using an undervalued exchange rate.
Mavondo allegedly helped Manase to buy the Benz for ZW$25 351 418.60 instead of ZW$60 251 593.80, which was equivalent to US$178 000.
The money was purportedly given to Manase as a personal loan to regularise a problematic company-cars deal in which he ended up with two condition-of-service vehicles instead of one.
In so doing, Mavondo allegedly prejudiced Nssa of ZW$34 900 175 after converting the US$178 000 using a 31 March 2022 rate of US$1: ZW$142 instead of US$1: ZW$138 as of 21 June 2022.
Since Manase’s suspension in July last year, Charles Shava has been acting general manager.
Shava, who is the substantive director of occupational safety and health, was also arrested over a doctors’ allowances scheme involving $12 246 571.48.
Shava’s lawyers said that was part of Mavima’s backlash against those who are seen as exposing his corrupt house deal and Nssa interference.
Mavima tried to replace Shava with Agnes Masiiwa, the director of contributions, collections and compliance, but was blocked by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga when he was Acting President in January.
Masiiwa’s appointment was officially done by Nssa board chairperson Percy Toriro with Mavima’s approval.
Toriro has since resigned and replaced by Emmanuel Fundira.
Amid upheavals at Nssa, several executives and managers were shifted and some removed as those in charge sought to assert control amid corruption allegations.
Others became collateral damage, like David Makwara, the corporate affairs director, suspended over a loan issue, but who claims to be a victim of the situation.
Makwara has been in and out of Nssa as a result.
Fundira says officials implicated in the Nssa audit report will be suspended and face the full wrath of the law.
The report has already been presented to be released to the Office of the President and Cabinet, setting the stage for action, that is if the authorities — some of them compromised — act at all.
However, Fundira has his work cut out for him, just like Mnangagwa. The Mavima matter is a test case for him.
Nssa has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals in recent years, including the current one.-STAFF WRITER