NEW Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chair Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo faces her first big test over allegations of wrongdoing involving her husband, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo.
Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s forensic report into plundering of the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) implicated Fernhaven Investments, a military-owned company where Moyo, a retired army major-general, is a director.
Now Zacc, which has already arrested former Environment, Tourism and Hospitality minister Prisca Mupfumira over allegations in the auditor-general’s report, faces the prospect of investigating the husband of its head.
When Matanda-Moyo was appointed to lead Zacc in July, she said she would not interfere with any investigation to do with her husband.
Questioned by the Sunday Times on Thursday over the allegations against Fernhaven in the forensic report, she said: “As I said before, I can’t be involved in such cases in any way.”
Moyo is a key power broker in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime and announced the military action that led to former President Robert Mugabe stepping down from power in November 2017.
Chiri’s report says Africom, a telecommunications company in which the army owns 51% through Fernhaven, borrowed US$15 million from AfrimexBank, but failed to service the loan.
Nssa, as a minority (4,5%) shareholder in Africom, became the sole guarantor of the loan in December 2013 despite misgivings from its board.
Fernhaven indemnified Nssa by providing security for the loan in the form of Longcheng Plaza shopping mall in Harare, which was built by Chinese firm Anhui Foreign Construction Corporation for an estimated US$200m.
Africom persistently defaulted on the loan and in 2015, Afrimex demanded money from Nssa, which made payments to the bank.
According to Chiri’s report, however, Nssa should have demanded the money from Fernhaven, since the company had provided its property as surety.
“As per indemnity agreement, Nssa should have foreclosed on the Fernhaven-pledged Longcheng property in order to raise the money to settle the debt,” the report said.
Allegations in Chiri’s report, based on a three-year investigation by BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants, have already led to the arrest of Mupfumira in relation to the plunder of Nssa during her tenure as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister between 2014 and 2017. She will appear in court next week on fraud charges involving US$95m.
Former Nssa chairman Robin Vela, who is also implicated in fraud, has asked the High Court to set aside the Auditor-General’s report, saying it is biased.
“The manner in which the investigators went about their task speaks to their incompetence, which incompetence affects the outcome of the report … there is malice that permeates and pervades the whole report,” Vela argued in court papers.
The Housing Corporation Zimbabwe (HCZ) is also challenging the report, which said the organisation was just a week old when it won a US$304m property deal, and failed to build a single house despite receiving US$16m upfront.
An HCZ statement said: “The report contains several falsehoods as regards to HCZ. These untruths are attributable to the incompetent manner in which BDO conducted its forensic investigation and in arriving at its conclusions.
“The absence of an in-depth probe includes ignoring critical information that would have assisted the investigation with accurate facts.”
Advocate Thabani Mpofu has offered his services to prosecute those implicated in fraud. “The true, but untold Nssa story is known to us, even to the minutest detail,” he said in a statement this week directed at the Zacc.
“We are ready to act, but we will only act against the corrupters of the corrupt, the bishops of thievery.
“This is my public offer to you Justice Matanda-Moyo. Give me three of the big ones. Give me three who have looted our billions and I will prosecute them for free. The ball is in your court.”
Maureen Kademaunga, the MDC secretary for public service and social welfare, said corruption within Nssa had far-reaching implications for the wellbeing of pensioners.
“At the centre of the effects of the Nssa scandal is the failure by the institution to honour its obligations on pensions. After decades of hard work and deductions, retirees become paupers due to the avarice of corrupt politicians who seek to profit at the expense of the impoverished workers,” Kademaunga said.
“The criminals must not go unpunished, but beyond the punitive measures that we expect to be taken against those who have been caught with their fingers in the pie, the MDC proposes systemic and structural reforms of the public pension fund.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo told the Sunday Times unions flagged graft at the Nssa several years ago, so he was not surprised by the contents of the report.
“We wrote to the ministry during the time of Mupfumira proposing sweeping changes to the Nssa Act. The Act gives excessive powers over other stakeholders by the minister and we suggested Parliament should oversee the operations of Nssa,” Moyo said.
During his time in the army, SB Moyo was in charge of numerous business portfolios in which the military invested. He was MD of an army firm, Cosleg that mined diamonds in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at the turn of the century.
He and other senior army commanders were accused by the United Nations of plundering resources in the DRC in a report that also mentions Mnangagwa, Defence minister at the time and former Cabinet minister Sydney Sekeramayi. — Sunday Times