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NSSA deals saga in new twist

By Thomas Mupfuka

Former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) chairman Robin Vela says an audit of the state-owned pension scheme, which detected alleged underhand dealings during his tenure is flawed.

Vela made the observations in an affidavit he recently lodged with the High Court where he is challenging findings of the forensic audit done by BDO Charted Accountants Zimbabwe on behalf of Auditor General Mildred Chiri.

He argued that the audit failed to meet basic tenets of fairness and wants the High Court to set it aside. Vela said the audit report was “without jurisdiction, irregular, incompetent, biased, malicious and unfair.”

Some of the key findings of the audit were that there was no proper securitisation of certain offtake agreements between NSSA and Metbank.

It also raised alleged lack of proper corporate governance systems and place Vela and former Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira at the centre of the alleged rot.

Mupfumira was arrested soon after the release of the report and is facing criminal abuse of office charges over the alleged siphoning of $95 million from NSSA. The auditors recommended that NSSA should seek legal advice on how to deal with Vela.

“NSSA should seek legal counsel on how to deal with the involvement of the former board chairman in the overpayment of board fees,” read part of the auditors report.

However, in the court papers Vela insisted that the auditors were off the mark.

“In dealing with the Housing Corporation of Zimbabwe (HCZ) issue the auditors report that NSSA was caused in instance a loss of US$16 million, in another US$104 million, and yet in another instance US$304 million,” he argued.

“This lack of consistency is legendary. It speaks a lack of standard on which the work was measured and conduct reviewed.

“This is a sign of delinquency and incompetency on the part of the auditors.

“The auditors also fail to recognise, accept or acknowledge that the US$16 million disbursed by NSSA to HCZ was three times secured by a US$16 million Zimnat Insurance Guarantee and a US$32 million land bond.

“The omission to deal with that is deliberate and speaks to a malicious design.”

On the Metbank deals, Vela said the transactions happened before he was appointed the NSSA board chairman.

“I was appointed to lead the NSSA board on the 12th of July 2015,” he said.

“The report covers the period 1 January 2015. The auditors in typical fashion however, assume that I was in office since the 1st of January 2015.

“For that reason, they irregularly assign me to transactions that happened before my time.

“The report concludes that NSSA lost some US$4 million in a corrupt debt deal swap involving Metbank’s property. I was not yet on the scene when that happened or is alleged to have happened.

“It also concluded that Metbank sold some properties to NSSA at highly inflated prices prejudicing the authority of some US$2 million. I had not been appointed at the time of those allegations.

“For the reasons that are not clear, the auditors have decided to turn back the hands of time.

“This is irregular, this is malicious, this is unlawful. Indeed, this is reviewable.

“I pray that the court may review this report and set it aside in those respects that pertain to me.”

Chiri appointed BDO Zimbabwe to carry out a forensic investigation into NSSA operations for the period between January 1, 2015 to February 28, 2018. Vela had been sacked in March of the same year.

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