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Nssa audit nails corrupt minister on house deal

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AN internal National Social Security Authority (Nssa) audit has nailed Public Service minister Paul Mavima over his corrupt US$400 000 upmarket house deal in Quinnington, Borrowdale, Harare, confirming an investigation by The NewsHawks recently.

BERNARD MPOFU

The confidential audit report seen by The NewsHawks confirms the whole story done over several weeks, threading issues together until unimpeachable evidence emerged. The only difference is that the audit is more detailed and has exhibits.

The audit, done by Andrew Nyakonda and dated 20 February 2023, confirms that Mavima, without naming him, bought the house through a corrupt process that was not approved by the board and in “blatant disregard of corporate governance principles”.

The NewsHawks named Mavima. Nyakonda is deputy audit director.

Nssa director of investments and properties Brian Murewa — on the run after fleeing to South Africa — unilaterally facilitated the deal on behalf of the minister.

Paul Mavima

Mavima was further nailed by Nssa boss Charles Shava in a letter to the executive through Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda a fortnight ago.

The minister and his corrupt Nssa and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) cabal then got Shava arrested for fighting corruption. They want him suspended from work to stall the disciplinary hearing against Murewa on 30 March, which may expose the minister further.

 They got him arrested last week on Thursday to prevent the disciplinary which was scheduled for Friday after trying to do the same on Monday as the process was initially set for Tuesday.

Zacc officials reportedly facilitated Murewa’s escape to South Africa to prevent him from arrest and testifying in a Nssa internal disciplinary process where he could spill the beans, throwing the minister under the bus to save his skin.

Says the audit: “Audit investigations noted blatant disregard of good corporate governance practices in the disposal of Stand 218, Lot 1A of Quinnington, Borrowdale. Nssa Policies and Procedures require that investment proposals be tabled by management for discussion at Board Investment Committee (BIC).

“BIC then deliberates on the matter before making recommendation to the Board for approval. It is only in exceptional cases that section 18 of the Nssa Act is evoked. The Director Investments (Brian Murewa) violated this requirement by recommending the disposal of the Nssa Stand 218 Lot 1A Quinnington without following the due process and obtaining the necessary governance approvals.”

Murewa initiated the disposal of the Borrowdale house through an email dated 10 June 2022.

The email was copied to Victor Manyowa (Nssa executive assistant to the general manager) and the now suspended general manager Arthur Manase who was later sent home for a corrupt loan arrangement.

The house transaction did not go through then, only for Murewa to resuscitate it on 3 October 2022.

The three-member audit team enquired with Shava on whether he was consulted on the disposal and he indicated Murewa had lobbied for that on two occasions, but he did not sanction the transaction.

Shava told auditors he had advised Murewa that there was need for board approval, but he proceeded to dispose the property without authority, defying him, the acting general manager who is the Nssa boss.

“The property Stand 218 Quinnington, Borrowdale, is not registered in Nssa name. The deed of transfer is in the name of (Angvo Investments (Private) Limited),” the audit says.

“Audit investigations showed that deeds for the property are not in the custody of CBZ Custodial Services who are custodians of assets purchased by asset managers. This could facilitate easy disposal and transfer of the property without Nssa knowledge.

“Murewa acted outside the duties and responsibilities stipulated in his job description and usurped powers of the General Manager and the Board. Brian Murewa failed in the fiduciary responsibility of managing the day-to-day activities of the investment function in accordance with approved policies and governing regulations and laws.”

On the Kariba property, the audit report says Murewa misrepresented to the Nssa board, the true cost of purchasing the Kariba lodge.

“In his recommendation seeking board approval to buy the property, he stated the purchase price as US$240 000 fully aware that the advertisement for the property had a price tag of US$220 000,” the audit says.

“The investigation noted that Brian Murewa made an offer of US$240 000 for the property despite it having an asking price of US$220 000 on the advert by the seller, Pam Golding Properties.

“From the audit investigations, the property was finally purchased for US$215 000 as evidenced by the cash payments made to the estate agent Pam Golding Properties and the amendment to the agreement of sale.

“By so doing Murewa overstated the purchase of the property by US$25 000. At the instigation of Murewa, Nssa paid a total of US$244 000 towards the purchase of the property. There is therefore a potential prejudice to Nssa of about US$29 000. Further, evidence shows that the original cost of the property is US$252 631.59.”

Apart from misrepresenting to the board about the purchase price of Kariba Lodge, Murewa also misrepresented to stakeholders that the cost price of the property was
US$240 000.

“Murewa also initiated the transfer of US$300 000 to towards the acquisition of the property fully aware that the advertised cost of the property was US$220 000. The money was transferred on 13 January 2022,” the audit further reads.

“It is public knowledge that there are numerous incidents of armed robberies in the country. Notwithstanding this and against the authority’s policies and procedures, Murewa proceeded to withdraw and carry Nssa cash on three occasions amounting to US$153 000 (US$30 000: US$23 000 and US$100 000), thus exposing public funds to theft and robbery.

“The US$100 000 was received and kept overnight and paid the next day. Of the cash withdrawals made by Murewa, US$29 000 never reached Palm Golding Properties who were agents handling the sale of the property as he delivered US$124 000 in two batches of
US$24 000 and US$100 000.”

The agreement was signed in retrospect on 11 March 2022, yet all the payments for the acquisition had been paid by 31 January 2022.

Following The NewsHawks’ exclusive investigation into Mavima’s house deal, Shava was summoned to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s offices recently to explain what was happening.

He was asked to write a report on the house issue before he was arrested last week — on Thursday — on allegations of fraud, which he says are contrived to break him down to save the minister.

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