The Minister of Labour and Social Services Paurina Mpariwa has demanded an audit report on the disbursement of $137,5 million to local companies by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) in 2009.
Mpariwa ordered the audit following revelations in the local media that NSSA had disbursed the funds to 2 000 local companies which were experiencing liquidity challenges.
In a letter to the NSSA board, Mpariwa demanded to see minutes authorising the disbursement of funds.
“In that regard may you please avail me with the following information; a full list of the 2 000 beneficiary companies and the amounts disbursed to each one of them,” reads part of the letter.
“Terms and conditions of the financial assistance accorded to the 2 000 companies and the board minutes confirming or authorising the disbursement of the funds.”
She wants the board to make available the list of companies that have been granted tenders valued at or above $10 000 in the financial year June 30, 2009 to June 30, 2010.
Mpariwa said she feared that some of the companies that benefited from the NSSA funds were facing viability challenges.
She cited Lobels and Harambe Holdings as having disputes that have received extensive media coverage over issues pertaining to misappropriation of funds and general financial mismanagement.
Mpariwa said in October 2010, reports in the local media indicated that Lobels had been swindled out of an amount in excess of $7 million.
However, this issue was inexplicably not referred to the police for investigations by the Lobels directors.
“Harambe Holdings is currently involved in a public dispute with one of its suppliers over non-payment of goods supplied to it. Indications are that Harambe Holdings has been unable to pay its suppliers due to liquidity problems,” said Mpariwa.
“The fact that both Lobels and Harambe Holdings were recipients of substantial amounts of public funds from NSSA makes their current financial issues my ministry’s concern.
“It is in the public interest that NSSA requests both companies to account for the public funds that they received in November 2009.”
Mpariwa is also demanding audited financial statements for the year 2008 and 2009.
“I am aware of the fact that the current board was only appointed in September of 2010 and may therefore not be privy to the decisions that were made by the previous board pertaining to the issue that I have referred to above.
“There are, however, a number of concerns arising from these issues that I may discuss with you after I have perused the documents that I have requested for above.”
Some of the companies believed to have received funds from NSSA include National Foods, Tacoola Beverages, Grain Marketing Board, NicozDiamond, Fidelity Life Assurance, Interfin Merchant Bank and Africom Continental.