EMBATTLED National Social Security Authority (Nssa) boss Arthur Manase (pictured), who had been on leave of absence since July last year amid investigations into a series of mismanagement and corrupt activities at the statutory pension fund, quit recently facing over 30 charges of maladministration and malpractice.
A ministry of Public Service official told The NewsHawks: “Manase quit recently. He was facing more than 30 charges of mismanagement, maladministration and corruption. He was going to be hauled through an internal disciplinary process, but resigned as charges were preferred against him. His resignation letter came as the charges were being served on him. He is now gone. Nssa is preparing his exit package.”
The official said as part of his package, Manasa wants to take a Mitsubishi Triton Double Cab on top of two top-of-the-range cars he acquired through Nssa, a Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover Defender.
However, for him to get the Triton, which is a pool car, it must be first converted to a condition-of-service vehicle before it can be sold to him at book value.
Former Nssa chairperson Percy Toriro last year in July sent Manase on leave of absence to pave way for corruption investigations at the US$1.2 billion fund.
“A comprehensive investigation has been instituted to get to the bottom of the matters,” Toriro said at the time.
“To support this and ensure that the exercise is conducted in an independent and transparent environment, the Board is sending the General Manager on leave until the exercise is complete. The board has appointed Charles Shava occupational safety and health director as acting general manager.”
After that, Nssa faced several investigations by different state institutions, including the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc). At one time Zacc actually camped at Nssa Building in Harare to conduct the investigations.
As part of the probe, a forensic audit report has been produced by AMG Global Chartered Accountants (Zimbabwe).
Among many other issues, Manase was removed partly due to a scandal over the two cars valued US$353 000, which he bought in violation of company policy, informed insiders say.
The two cars bought for Manase in violation of company policy are a Mercedes-Benz AMG E53 for US$178 000 and a Land Rover Defender for US$175 000.
Insiders say Nssa bosses are allowed to have one condition-of-service vehicle, but Manase had two, which is not allowed.
After realising that the situation was in violation of internal company policy on his conditions of employment, Manase transformed one of the cars — the Mercedes-Benz — into a loan, in an attempt to regularise the issue.
However, in so doing Manase tied himself in knots in the process as yet another irregularity emerged — selling the car to himself irregularly.
“What happened was that Manase was bought two cars by Nssa: A Mercedes-Benz and a Land Rover Defender. That was in violation of company policy and his condition of employment,” a source previously told The NewsHawks.
“After realising how serious the issue was, he then sought permission from former (Public Service) minister Paul Mavima and ex-chairman Dr Percy Toriro to convert the Mercedes-Benz into a personal loan. This means that he effectively sold himself that car irregularly — it was a case of trying to solve one problem while creating another.”
Manase enjoyed the support of Mavima while at Nssa, but he was eventually suspended amid corruption investigations at the statutory pension fund scheme.
Mavima was recently removed from the ministry and posted to the Office of the President and Cabinet as a minister of State Skills Audit.
The minister left Nssa amid a house corruption scandal exposed by The NewsHawks. Mavima was caught up in a US$400 000 corrupt upmarket house deal in Quinnington, Borrowdale, Harare, involving Nssa — which was under his control — and the ministry of Finance.
Manasa was replaced by Shava, currently Nssa acting general manager. Shava is the substantive Nssa director of occupational safety and health.
As a result of the car mess, 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 car using an undervalued exchange rate.
Mavondo allegedly helped Manase to buy the Mercedes-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.
Manase’s situation was compounded by a house loan of US$600 000 — not US$750 000 as widely reported — which he was getting, while he also got a US$2 500 housing allowance.
There was also the issue of a house in Borrowdale which was renovated for the general manager, a position he occupied at the time.
The house — No.49A Borrowdale Road, Harare — was renovated for the Nssa boss, while he got a housing loan and allowance.
Manase has denied the corruption charges and claims he has been exonerated.
Several Nssa executives have been suspended, removed or are under investigation.
Shava was arrested over a doctors’ allowances scheme involving ZW$12 246 571.48. His lawyers say that was part of Mavima’s backlash against those who are seen as exposing his corrupt house deal.
Apart from the corrupt house dal, there is also the 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.
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 Toriro.
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.
Brian Murewa, the Nssa investments director who has skipped the border into South Africa after facilitating the minister’s corrupt deal, has since been fired.
New Nssa chair Emmanuel Fundira said officials implicated in the audit report will be dealt with and face the full wrath of the law.