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Former NSSA GM arrested for fraud

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Former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) general manager, James Matiza (59), appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court yesterday following his arrest on Tuesday, on fraud allegations involving millions of dollars.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

James Matiza
James Matiza

Matiza was granted $500 bail by Harare magistrate, Rumbidzai Mugwagwa, who remanded him to January 18.

As part of his bail conditions, Matiza was ordered not to interfere with State witnesses, to reside at his given address, to surrender his passport to the clerk of court and to report to police once a week.

Matiza is also facing an alternative charge of criminal abuse of office.

According to the State, in September 2014, NSSA secured a property to buy from Matey-Kingdom (Pvt ) Ltd, described as Stand Number 19280 Township of Salisbury, known as Celesoral Park in Borrowdale.

The State alleges at all material times, NSSA was represented by Matiza and his alleged accomplices Shadreck Vera (then investiment director) and Samuel Chiduza (former properties manager), who are both still at large.

Matiza was also chairperson of the NSSA management investments committee and a member of the board’s investments committee, while his alleged accomplices were members of the same committee.

It is alleged before NSSA could purchase the property, the trio were mandated to look for property valuators to determine the market value of the property to enable the parastatal to use a benchmark for price bargaining.

As such, NSSA allegedly obtained valuation reports from three companies, namely Bard Real Estate, which came up with a gross replacement cost of $29 million, forced value of $8 million and market value of $24 million; CB Richards Ellis gross replacement value of $24 354 000, forced value not provided and market value of $25,6 million; and Green Plan Pvt Ltd, which did not provide gross value, but arrived at market value of $36,5 million.

The State alleges the three valuators’ reports were supposed to be tabled before the board for adjudication before the agreement of sale was entered into by the seller.

It is alleged of the three reports, the one from Bard was the most favourable and would have given NSSA bargaining power, but Matiza deliberately concealed the report and referred the remaining two reports, which were not cost-effective, to the board, which eventually worked with a higher valuation from Green Plan.

Through the alleged withholding and concealment, the trio misrepresented to NSSA that the property was worth $36,5 million, yet they knew the property was worth $24 million, as per the cheapest Bard Real Estate valuation report.
The property was eventually purchased at a price of $32 million after price bargaining.

Matiza’s alleged corrupt activity had the effect of prejudicing NSSA of $8 million, the net difference between market value of $24 million and purchase price of $32 million.

The alleged offence came to light on October 24 last year after NSSA carried out an audit, which stretched from May to October last year.

Nancy Chandakaona appeared for the State.

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