By Everson Mushava
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board on Monday fretted when asked to answer to questions regarding abuse of pension funds, particularly the payment of $1,8 million to six experts engaged to unpack a BDO forensic audit compiled at a cost of US$120 000.
NSSA convened a stakeholders’ meeting to deliberate on the welfare of pensioners whose income has been ravaged by hyperinflation.
But the meeting reportedly turned into an interrogation of the board members by stakeholders on alleged financial irregularities perpetrated at the instance of former Labour minister Sekai Nzenza.
One of the stakeholders, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa, confirmed attending the meeting, but refused to disclose the issues deliberated on, saying NSSA had promised to call for another meeting to deal with the contentious issues.
“I attended the meeting, but cannot disclose what was discussed until the authority calls for another meeting to deliberate on some contentious issues raised by the stakeholders,” Mutasa, whose organisation was the first to question the $1,8 million payment to the experts on Twitter, said yesterday.
According to sources, some stakeholders demanded answers from the NSSA board on the $1,8 million paid to six handpicked experts hired to unpack the BDO forensic report that implicated former Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira in a US$95 million corruption case.
The report also implicated former NSSA board chair Robin Vela, who has since challenged it in court, describing it as a shoddily done job. About 24 managers at the authority have been placed on forced leave after being implicated by the report.
The managers, however, are not privy to the contents of the audit report since its release following a protracted war between Nzenza and Parliament.
“The board announced it was increasing pension pay-outs and deliberated on the welfare of pensioners. After that, stakeholders demanded answers to allegations on NSSA paying $1,89 million to experts to unpack an audit report produced at a cost of US$120 000,” one of the stakeholders, who attended the meeting, said.
The stakeholders, the source claimed, also demanded an explanation on allegations regarding the improper hiring of a company to do an information communication health check on NSSA without going to tender.
NSSA board chair Cuthbert Chidoori reportedly denied the $1,8 million figure, claiming it was being thrown around, but failed to give the exact figure, promising to call for another stakeholders meeting and an annual general meeting to explain the situation at the pensions authority.
In the meeting, other stakeholders also reportedly raised objections on the policy that allows NSSA board members to sit on the board of companies the parastatal has interests in, arguing that the practice was against principles of good corporate governance.
NSSA was initially supposed to have an AGM on November 18, but it has not been announced. The AGM requires a 21-day notice, making it difficult for the pension authority to convene it this year.
NSSA is also said to have evicted two foreign tenants leasing its houses in Borrowdale to pave way for Nzenza and her deputy, Lovemore Matuke, in letters exchanged between the authority, Labour minister and the Office of the President in June and August this year, which NewsDay is in possession of.
Nzenza and Matuke, however, did not take occupation of the houses.