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Zacc investigates Nssa corruption


US$1,2bn Nssa pension fund on auto pilot



THE National Social Security Authority (Nssa) has come under the spotlight for failing to timeously fill the position of general manager to preside over an estimated US$1.2 billion worth of assets under the pension fund, following the resignation of Arthur Manase under a cloud of a slew of corruption charges in September last year.


The general manager’s position will soon be filled as applicants have recently submitted CVs with an expectation that a new Nssa boss will be appointed next month — 10 months later after Manase’s departure under a cloud of corruption charges.

 Inside sources at the pension fund this week said the managerial vacuum left by Manase since July when he went on leave of absence through to September when he resigned up to now is not good for such a big entity.

“A lot of things could be happening without anyone substantive to be held accountable. It’s now almost six months since Manase resigned and Nssa is still on auto pilot. There is suspicion that influential people in both the government and at the entity may be using the managerial vacuum to further strip the institution of its resources,” said a source.

A Nssa general manager is tasked with the overall accountability, responsibility and authority for the management and supervision of the organisation’s business affairs, in accordance with the strategic plan and objectives as developed by the board, and subject to oversight by the line ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

Key outputs include the development and execution of strategic vision and planning processes; successfully growing the two Nssa schemes, namely pensions and other benefit schemes and accident prevention as well as the workers’ compensation scheme for the improved benefit of all qualifying recipients.

“Without fears of possible looting that could be taking place, there is no one perfoming all these duties in a substantive manner since the departure of Manase,” said an inside source.

 Manase quit in a storm while facing more than 30 corruption charges which included alleged gross inefficiency and incompetence, wilful disobedience of lawful orders, and theft or fraud. He had been on leave of absence since July last 2022 amid investigations into a series of mismanagement and corrupt activities at the statutory pension fund.

Documents read by The NewsHawks indicated corruption accusations against Manase including violation of procurement regulations, imposition of contractors and service providers without a competitive bidding process, irregular purchase and disposal of properties, unlawful cash withdrawals, illegal sale of shares, lack of proper accounting for transactions, improper transfer of funds, inappropriate investments, and wrong investment disposals.

The allegations also entailed: implementation of an unapproved remuneration framework, unauthorised condition of service motor vehicle frameworks, unlawful acquisition of motor vehicles, unprocedural granting of loans through Nssa instead of the National Building Society (NBS), United States dollar loans improperly paid back in local currency, unlawful housing loan tenures, double-dipping and abuse of public funds in executives’ solar installation project, appointments without following company guidelines, irregular staffing levels at his office, illegal promotions, and misrepresentation of facts to the board on public claims of venality at Nssa.

Following his placement on leave of absence in July 2022 and the subsequent corruption investigations, Nssa decided to suspend Manase without pay and benefits with effect from 28 July 2023.

This was pending his appearance before a disciplinary committee and hearing in terms of section 12B of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01] as read with the Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct) Regulations, 2006 (Statutory Instrument 15 of 2006).

 Charges against Manase included misconduct, willful disobedience of lawful orders and theft or fraud.

“Nssa signed a composite loan agreement with NBS [National Building Society], whereby NBS was to take over the administration and provision of loans to Nssa employees, effective from 1 November 2016,” one document says.

 “However, you caused Nssa to extend housing loans directly to seven executive employees, including yourself, amounting to US$2 898 472.02, as well as motor vehicle loans to 15 executive employees amounting to US$1 097 747.73. As a result, you failed to comply with set procedure to access loans by the executive employees. “Your aforementioned conduct was in breach of the express and/or implied terms of your contract of employment. Additionally, your conduct amounted to theft/fraud.”

Documents say from 1 January 2020, Manase caused Nssa to acquire listed and unlisted equity investments, enter into joint ventures and disburse some loans without due diligence, valuations, risk assessment and before fulfilment of conditions precedent, board and ministerial approvals and other necessary procedures.

“Further, you allowed funds to be disbursed to projects and/or for investments before conditions precedent had been met and without safeguarding of Nssa’s interests on some investments, for instance, Nssa’s funds were used to pay almost the full fund-raising fees to a related party before the other investors had made their contributions on the authority’s investment in Centragrid Investments (Pvt) Ltd,” a document says.

“You therefore failed to safeguard interest of the authority as its chief accounting officer and exposed the authority to potential financial loss. Your aforementioned conduct was in breach of the express and/or implied terms of your contract of employment. Additionally, your conduct amounted to incompetency and/or inefficiency in the performance of tour duties.”

 Manase engaged in improper investment disposals without necessary approvals, particularly regarding National Tyre Services Ltd, Masimba and Bindura Nickel Corporation, the documents also state.

In some cases, Nssa received unsolicited offers to buy its shares in different companies which were then sold without competitive bids and necessary approvals. In the disposal of Turnall shares, Manase did not notify the Competition and Tariff Commission as required.

“For some disposals, the authority was paid through a swap for CBZ Bank Ltd shares, which resulted in an increase of Nssa’s shareholding when the board had approved the banking portfolio refocus strategy where the authority wanted to reduce its shareholding to 9%,” the document notes.

In another charge, the document says Manase did not implement the Corporate Governance Unit (CGU) directives for Nssa to ensure its remuneration framework was in line with the cabinet-approved new remuneration framework.

“On 11 April 2022, the Office of the President and Cabinet wrote another letter to the minister in which they advised him to ensure Nssa complies with the approved remuneration framework, the PPDPA and the Public Enterprises Corporate Governance Act,” it says.

 “However, you did not implement the CGU directives which were not implemented by Nssa until March 2023. As a result, for the period from 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2022, Nssa suffered approximately US$58 019 and ZW$19 859 040 prejudice through payment of unauthorised allowances and benefits to executives. “In addition, during the period 1 January 2020 to January 2022, you approved the payment of some benefits in USD, which were not approved by the board and these benefits amounted to a total of US$265 820. You therefore, wilfully defied and/or refused to implement lawful directives and caused financial loss to the authority of payment of unapproved salaries and benefits.”

 Manase also presided over former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima’s US$400 000 corrupt upmarket house deal in Quinnington, Borrowdale, Harare. Besides, there was 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. This means US$29 000 was siphoned. Manase and his management also tried but failed to sell Nssa’s shares in OK Zimbabwe without board approval.

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