MASVINGO – While workers are paying through their nose to secure a decent retirement package, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) does not seem perturbed at all to throw that money into white elephant projects as a car park built in Masvingo has been lying idle for the past three years.
An email sent to NSSA spokesperson, Constance Makoni, in August 2017, inquiring about the park has not yet been responded to.
Subsequent follow-up phone calls to her have also yielded nothing yet, with the regional manager for Masvingo, Tsungai Jeche, saying he was not allowed to comment on such issues. That car park has been lying idle since 2015.
The car park with a capacity to accommodate 100 cars and sitting on more than 800m2 was meant to generate revenue for the national pension fund, but has brought in nothing.
Sources said the land was bought by NSSA as part of its land banking policy.
Sources at NSSA said the pension fund managers made a wrong investment decision as they expected a huge demand for parking space in the city.
“There was no feasibility study done before the construction of the car park to ascertain the viability of the project considering the size of Masvingo town,” an employee, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, said.
This is not the first time that NSSA has sunk public funds in bottomless pits.
In 2014, the cost for the construction of Beitbridge Hotel shot from $17 million to $50 million after the contractor, Costain, failed to do the job as agreed although having been paid in advance.
NSSA at one time sunk $2,5 million into Star Africa before the company went on to make a loss of over $14 million.
Millions of dollars were also sunk into Renaissance Bank in unclear circumstances and the bank collapsed.
There is an outcry over NSSA managers’ hefty packages in an economy where the majority live on a dollar a day. The 2016 audit report by Auditor-General Mildred Chiri was damning and particularly condemned lavish salaries that managers in grades E2 and E3 awarded themselves.
Those in E3 had contracts which indicated a salary of $6 240 but their payslips had $9 000 and those in E2 were supposed to be earning $7 775 yet they were getting $11 000 yet pensioners who made NSSA what it is through monthly contributions are earning a mere $85 per month which is not enough to last one week for a family of six.
“I observed that managers’ contracts had amounts that were in excess of the approved framework by the permanent secretary and I recommend that funds be recovered or permission be granted for the salary increases,” she was quoted saying.