FORMER National Social Security Authority (NSSA) general manager Elizabeth Chitiga yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts facing allegations of swindling the pension fund of $31 million in a housing project scam. BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Chitiga (59) was not asked to plead when she appeared before magistrate Victoria Mashamba, who remanded her out of custody to January 11 on $1 000 bail.
The former pension fund boss, who was represented by Jonathan Samukange, was ordered to surrender her passport to the clerk of court as part of her bail conditions. She was also ordered to reside at the given address, to report once every Friday at CID Headquarters and not to interfere with State witnesses.
The State alleges that Chitiga’s accomplice James Tirivavi, who was a strategic executive assistant at NSSA, instructed National Building Society (NBS) to carry out projects in Dzivarasekwa (Harare), Chikanga Extension (Mutare), Shropshrine (Gweru), Lot 834 and 835 (Zvishavane) and Elsmond (Zvishavane) at a cost of $78 827 500, without following due process.
NBS is a subsidiary of NSSA.
The bank had been given a mandate by the pensions authority to construct 10 000 low-cost housing units countrywide in September last year and a team led by head of housing projects, Silas Mukono, had identified 14 possible projects out of which they selected five – Victoria Range in Masvingo, Denver Township (Bulawayo), Mkoba (Gweru), Dulibadzimu (Beitbridge) and Emganwini Phase 4 (Bulawayo). The value of the project was $80 991 200. This was turned down by Tirivavi.
The State alleges on August 24 last year, in an effort to regularise directives to NBS, Chitiga and Tirivavi connived and misrepresented to the board investments committee that NBS required funding for five projects.
The board allegedly acted on the misrepresentation and approved funding for the projects totalling $78 827 500 on the understanding that due process had been done by both NSSA and NBS.
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It is alleged that due diligence was done for only two of the five projects, and that Chitiga and Tirivavi’s actions potentially prejudiced NSSA of $31 727 500. Shepherd Makonde appeared for the State.