Mupfumira acquitted in US$90m fraud case

Prisca Mupfumira

Former Public Service Labour and Social Welfare minister, Prisca Mupfumira, was yesterday acquitted of charges of defrauding the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) US$90 million after a full trial.

Mupfumira, who was initially charged together with Barnabas Matongera, was facing  charges of criminal abuse of office.

Matongera was the first to be acquitted of the same allegations.

Mupfumira was accused of giving specific instructions to NSSA to enter into a housing project with a company called Drawcard Enterprises (Private) Limited (Drawcard).

It was alleged that Mupfumira and Matongera gave specific instructions to NSSA to proceed with a housing project named Mzenya Off-take Housing Scheme, which ought to have been done in compliance with tender procedures.

It was alleged  that they did so without approval from the NSSA board of directors.

In so doing, they are alleged to have by-passed tender procedures,which amounted to criminal abuse of public office as prescribed in Section 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform Act) Act [Chapter 9:23].

ln acquitting her, regional magistrate Nduna said the state failed to prove a case against the former minister to secure a conviction.

"Accordingly, the accused is found not guilty and is acquitted," Nduna ruled.

Nduna said the ex-minister  cannot be held responsible for failure by NSSA to subject the project to the Procurement Authority of Zimbabwe regulations as she did not sit in NSSA board meetings.

He also said non-compliance cannot be attributed to the accused in whatever capacity.

The state had alleged that the unlawful instruction was designed to circumvent the requirement that NSSA goes through its own internal processes to secure a board approval as well as going through tender procedures.

lt was alleged that the prejudice to NSSA was that it did not benefit from the safeguards inherent in obtaining board approval and tender procedures before contracting Drawcard.

Mupfumira  landed one of the four Zanu PF senatorial posts in her Mashonaland West province after last year’s disputed elections.

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