Daniel Nemukuyu, Harare Bureau
THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA) forensic audit report released in Parliament this week exposes shocking corruption, fraud, criminal abuse of office and theft that saw the authority being prejudiced of more than US$175 million.
NSSA suffered actual financial prejudice to the tune of US$7,5 million while the investigators detected potential financial prejudice of about US$168 million.
Cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira and the authority’s former board chairperson Mr Robin Vela prominently featured in the report.
Off-take housing contracts awarded to undeserving companies through corruption have potentially prejudiced NSSA of US$104 million.
According to the report, NSSA lost about US$4 million to Metbank in a corrupt debt swap deal involving the bank’s property.
Metbank also sold properties to NSSA at highly inflated prices, prejudicing the authority of about US$2 million.
The executive management awarded themselves unapproved loans and benefits to the tune of about US$306 000 while non-executive directors got about US$86 000. Unfair labour practices at NSSA and awarding of golden handshake, resulted in NSSA losing about US$598 000.
Some prominent figures were also fingered in the scandal that saw NSSA “blindly” releasing close to US$27 million to three construction companies without going to tender, neither did the authority carry out a due diligence exercise.
NSSA also lost US$62 million through treasury bills and loans advanced to Metbank.
The report also exposed recruitment scandals that saw Mrs Elizabeth Chitiga, who was third in the interviews, being appointed chief executive ahead of the top two.
NSSA, according to the report, awarded tenders for the construction of 10 504 housing units under off-take housing project but not even a single unit was constructed despite releasing an advance deposit payment of US$27 million.
All this was done with the approval of Minister Mupfumira and Mr Vela.
Two of the companies—Drawcard (Private) Limited and Metro Reality Private Limited got special treatment in the awarding of the tender because they were linked to Goromonzi North legislator and MetBank chief executive officer Mr Ozias Bvute.
Mr Bvute and MetBank’s managing director Belmont Ndebele are the owners of Metro Reality.
Metro Reality’s links with Metbank, according to the report, also contributed to the company’s favourable treatment which saw it being awarded two off-take housing contracts in one day.
Metro Reality got a down payment of US$1,71 million while Drawcard got US$3,5 million but no work was done.
Part of the report reads:
“Metro Reality got favourable treatment from NSSA because of its links with Metbank. The company is owned by Mr Bvute and Mr Ndebele, who are the executive directors of Metbank.
“Metro Reality was awarded two off-take housing agreements same day without going to tender.”
The award of the two contracts, according to the report, was done at a meeting held in Mr Vela’s office in the presence of Minister Mupfumira and Metbank officials.
Housing Corporation Zimbabwe, the third company, was awarded the US$304 million contract when it was a week old. The company was awarded a contract to construct 8 000 units when it was still green and without following the tender procedure.
It was paid a deposit of US$16 million in 2017 but not even a single unit was built.
On April 7, 2016, NSSA held interviews for the post of general manager and Ms Elizabeth Chitiga, who was third with 83 percent got the job ahead of Ms Rachael Kupara and Mrs Tanya Chikanza who scored 90 percent and 85 percent respectively. One of the internal candidates Mr Henry Chikova who was shortlisted, was not interviewed for unclear reasons.
NSSA membership records were also found to be in shambles.