New NSSA boss reads riot act

National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board chairperson Emmanuel Fundira

INCOMING National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board chairperson Emmanuel Fundira on Friday said officials implicated in the public pension fund audit report will be suspended and face the full wrath of the law.

The report, according to Fundira, was scheduled to be released to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) on Friday last week.

Numerous corruption scandals have rocked NSSA, purportedly causing the parastatal to lose millions of dollars as retirees make do with paltry monthly pension payouts.

“The NSSA report will be released today (last Friday) at OPC and the report is going to guide us on who is affected and what are the areas which are affected, what are the issues and there has to be serious engagement with affected people one way or the other,” he told NewsDay Business.

“Obviously, the law on its own will take its course, but from an administrative point of view, we cannot have a situation whereby a person has been named in the report. We cannot have that person remain as the face of the organisation. Those people have to freely step aside until their matter has been resolved one way or the other.”

He added: “We will not tolerate it, we are an institution (run by) people who have legal issues (hanging over their heads); how can you have a person who is on bail running the organisation?

“Inasmuch as the principle of basic law says you are innocent until proven guilty, but all the same allow that process to pan out and complete and be as far removed from the organisation so that you don’t influence the processes which are required for the purposes of making it clear.

“So, as far as I am concerned, if you are affected by that report, step aside. I have the mandate from the appointing authority to move the organisation forward, so we will not wait for the train to take off,” he said.

This comes as the pension fund remains in a state of paralysis owing to a leadership vacuum since Arthur Manase went on forced leave in July 2022.

Meanwhile, all of the accusations made against Manase — who is currently on suspension — have been dismissed by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission following a six-month-long investigation.

NSSA came into the spotlight after board members reportedly flew to Kenya for a week-long training workshop that could have been held locally and saved foreign currency as well as helped the thousands of pensioners who are currently wallowing in poverty.

The institution went on to send Manase on leave to allow internal and external investigations into corruption and looting allegations.

It is alleged that air tickets and hefty allowances werepaid for the team to undergo training in Kenya despite the fact that the same company that offered the course had agents in Zimbabwe who could have done it locally.

Sources said NSSA had an option of paying for the service to the said company in local currency if the training workshop was done locally.

Top managers at NSSA are also  being accused of corruptly recruiting cronies.

Also under investigation are allegations of opaque investments whereby asset management companies were hand-picked without following due process. Many of the asset management firms are directly or indirectly linked to some officials at NSSA.

Manase is also accused of allegedly receiving a US$750 000 housing loan, but continued to draw US$2 500 monthly housing allowances to service the loan, despite the fact that he already owns a home.

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