Praz throws ex-NSSA boss under the bus

Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz) chief executive officer Nyasha Chizu yesterday told a Harare magistrate that former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) general manager Elizabeth Chitiga, as the accounting officer, failed to follow laid down procedures when dealing with contracts that exceed $500 000.

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE

Chitiga is facing allegations of swindling $31 million from the pension fund in a housing project scam.

Chizu, who was testifying as the State witness, further told magistrate Bianca Makwande that the procurement board must have approved the contracts, but she failed to follow the said procedure.

“My comment on the allegations is that the law that was supposed to be followed in this case was breached,” Chizu said.

“There was no procurement board approval, so the whole process was not lawful. It is the responsibility of the accounting officer, who is the accused, to make sure that the laws and regulations are followed, but she failed to follow.”

The trial of the former pension fund boss, who is represented by Jonathan Samukange, will continue today with the cross-examination of the witness, Chizu.

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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), Dulivhadzimo (Beitbridge) and Emganwini Phase 4 (Bulawayo).

The value of the project was $80 991 200. This was turned down by Tirivavi.

The State alleges that on August 24 last year, in an effort to regularise directives to NBS, Chitiga and Tirivavi connived and misrepresented to the board’s 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.

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.

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