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Fired NSSA boss bares all

Former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board chairman Robin Vela has said the authority requires experienced management as well as intellectually astute political leadership.

BY NDAMU SANDU

Vela was fired last month by Labour and Social Services minister Petronella Kagonye on the grounds that he was not ordinarily a resident in Zimbabwe.

His critics say the businessman had assumed an executive role at the compulsory pension scheme, allegedly sidelining other board members in the process.

Asked how big NSSA was in terms of assets, Vela said: “Some $1,5 billion, which means it requires competent, qualified and experienced management as well as self-confident, mature and intellectually astute political leadership.”

In an interview with Standardbusiness last week, Vela hit back at his critics saying many of them had “never held a job, let alone corporate [position] of any description”.

“I maintain NSSA has not lost a single investment of a $1 during my tenure,” he said.

“A lot is make-believe. Ask them [critics] to validate their claims and they don’t, they can’t.”

Vela welcomed the proposed forensic audit, but questioned the sacking of executives before the exercise was done.

General manager Elizabeth Chitiga’s contract was terminated on April 6, 15 months before its expiry.

“A forensic audit is meant to happen. I welcome this but even before, and there are wholesale changes,” Vela said.

“Does due process not require that the forensic exercise is complete, report produced, responses called before judgement is made? Why the hurry?”

He said he made enemies as he was “singularly focused on the prize of delivering a living pension to the owners of the funds — the pensioners”.

Vela said the track record of protagonists in the NSSA saga portrayed selfish endeavour and ambition.

“The beauty about the truth is that it cannot be suppressed forever. In our case I am sure it will show its head before the end of August,” Vela said.

The ex-NSSA board chairperson said he had no time to clash with Kagonye and his repeated written requests to meet the minister had yielded no results.

“I met her once for all of 30 minutes and that was on the cancellation of the IT contract,” Vela said.

“She was then never available to meet with me again, but found time to spend five hours with members of the NSSA workers’ committee and to invite junior managers to her office where for them an open door was created.

“I had no chance to clash with her.”

What of Kangonye’s predecessors Patrick Zhuwao and Prisca Mupfumira?

“Ministers Mupfumira and Zhuwao were self-confident, seasoned and experienced stewards of ministerial posts and so not susceptible to the gossip merchants…NSSA by its very nature is always an institution where capture is an ambition of those close to the leadership,” he said.

Vela said his sacking and that of Chitiga were part of a plan “to place more malleable persons in place before the [Zanu PF] primaries”.

NSSA, he said, funded last month’s national disabilities day event, which was held in Kagonye’s constituency.

“The entire board was asked to resolve by round-robin. They did and it was paid as a corporate social responsibility thing,” he said.

Vela said it was the first time NSSA funded an event of such a nature.

“During my tenure, we received various funding requests, but none of this nature and construct,” he said.

“We always sought to remain apolitical and even-handedly support programmes of stakeholders.”

He said the board managed to undertake a restructuring exercise and a culture change under the slogan NSSA by choice, not by statute.

Its profitability rose to $170 million from $19 million while investment income grew to $70 million from $10 million.

Vela said assets grew to $1,5 billion from $900 million while pension payouts increased to $80 from $60.

The cash-rich NSSA has investments which straddle across banking, insurance, hospitals and real estate.

Critics say politicians have milked the institution forcing it to invest in shady deals like the construction of a hotel in Beitbridge.

The hotel was leased to Rainbow Tourism Group, which pulled out due to viability concerns.

Kagonye said she could not be drawn to comment on how the ministry operates in the media. She defended the holding of national disabilities day activities in her constituency saying there is a ward with disabled people and the ministry saw it as an ideal venue.

“I chose that because we are talking about sustainability. It’s a ward with 33 000 households. There are 250 disabled people who built their houses,” Kagonye said, adding the venue was also close to Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre and Danhiko.

She said the ministry rotates among provinces the venue for the celebrations and this year, Mashonaland East was chosen to host the event.

7 Responses to Fired NSSA boss bares all

  1. Owen April 15, 2018 at 7:29 am #

    A ward with 33 000 households? Then how many people live in that ward.

  2. Cde Kris April 15, 2018 at 11:19 am #

    Mupfanha Robin, what’s your take on allegations about your roving eye and Temba’s small house at NSSA?? Could it be linked to your demise? You say the truth will be known by end of August, does this mean that you are pinning your fading hopes on a extremely unlikely Wamba dia Mamba victory at the polls??

  3. Wezhira Wezhara Wezhowezhowe April 15, 2018 at 2:54 pm #

    Why is Vela so bitter.In any case he was just a Board Chairman who was just serving at the Minister`s pleasure.If the truth be said,Vela did more harm to NSSA than any other past Chairpersons.It is common knowledge that Vela was furthering the interests of non other than her mother in law Mupfumira.This is evidenced by the sponsorships he authirsed for Mupfumira`s child`s wedding,housing projects in Chinhoyi,opening of NBS in Chinhoyi ahead of other viable areas.If Vela says he remain ed apolitical,why did he donate ambulances,nurses and doctors at Zanu PF conference held in Masvingo.Vela and Mupfumira thought NSSA was their personal property.This was evidenced by staffing the Authority with their relatives.If Vela says he was a champion of corporate governance,how come he was staffing the organisation with his and Mupfumira`s relatives which is very much unethical.Why is it that recruitments were done without following internationally acceptable due processes.Current NSSA board and management must issue press statement disowning these Vela utterances,otherwise they would be seen as accomplices in crime.They would be seen as trying to pre-empt the impending forensic audit.

    The newspapers especially the standard must do proper investigations and publish factual stories otherwise the paper would be accused of having been bought by Vela.This story is a one sided report as they did not go deeper into this Vela saga.Find out from the NSSA employees,beneficiaries,employer`s and employees` representatives etc on their sentments rather than to be so biased.Why did they not interview the NSSA Acting Chairman?

  4. Casten April 15, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

    Should also look a his appointees to various investee companies of NSSA, some of whom have a direct influence in more than three listed Boards where they influence investments direction & bringing in SA linked partners esp on developmental related projects tendering processes etc. Some appointees also run Boards through remote control via skype!!

  5. Cde Gabarinocheka April 15, 2018 at 8:30 pm #

    Vela kana wadzingwa basa,goooo peacefully.Remember you removed others violently.You said a lot of rubbish about the previous management of J.Matiza.However Matiza and his team were gentlemen enough and they never rubbished you or the Ministe.Geshem Pasi was fired at ZIMRA.He was gentleman enough and never rubbished the Board Chair or Minister.Reward Kangai was fired at Netone.He never rubbished the board or Minister.I can go on and on.Now who is more intelligent you Vela or otherwise?Who is mature the Minister or Vela.You pretend to be apolitical,why then are you referring to political processes in August-harmonised elections?

    I had so much respect for you Vela,but sorry I have lost all the respect.Similarly the Standard has proved to be a paper of poor journalism because of their bias torwards this Vela person.This article is not balanced.Infact I strongly suspect that it was written by Vela himself.VEla must remember that he never started NSSA,neither was he anywhere near its formation.So he must be gentlemean enough and go peacefully.Well done Minister for listening to NSSA workers and junior managers as these are the engine of that organisation.They are the foot soldiers who drive that organisation and were always derided by Vela.Rumour had it that Vela had contracted his company to do most of NSSA projects.Forensic audit is therefore necessary to unearth all his shenanigans.

  6. Chasura April 15, 2018 at 8:41 pm #

    Vela imbavha yange irikuba mari pa NSSA and its investee companies.Infact the Minister was so kind to this idiot to just fire him na Chtiga.They were supposed to be arrested for commercial frauds and be confined to Chikurubi Maximum prison.He is lying that he increased profitability of NSSA.Those are investments done by previous management of Matiza which are now bearing fruits.If he has done any investment at NSSA ngaataure kuti kupi uye return yacho imarii yakabva ikoko.Vema paper musangonyora zvose zvose musina kuita enough verification.Zvinosvibisa zita re paper renyu izvi.

  7. Gaba Rinocheka April 16, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Tichazobudisa zve O level manje

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