Controversy over NSSA officials’ Vic Falls trip

05 Oct, 2022 - 00:10 0 Views
Controversy over NSSA officials’ Vic Falls trip NSSA general manager Dr Charles Shava denied this, arguing the accusations we being peddled by some people within the NSSA who were not aware of the reasons behind the formation the authority.

The Herald

Business Writer

The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has reportedly flown into a storm after taking 130-plus people to a Victoria Falls organisational safety and health (OSH) conference at a time when it has “embarked on a rationalisation programme, including salary cuts”, it has been learnt.

But acting NSSA general manager Dr Charles Shava denied this, arguing the accusations we being peddled by some people within the NSSA who were not aware of the reasons behind the formation the authority.

He said no pensioner was prejudiced by the conference as it was fully funded by some employers who sought to be assisted to prevent accidents.

Dr Shava said the conference, which was held according to the Industrial Act, sought to prevent accidents and promote safety at the workplace and has been running annually for the past 59 years.  

He said there was nothing sinister with the conference as it was approved by NSSA board.

“This conference is self-financing and is being attended by over 300 delegates and is going to generate over $300 million. It’s only that people are not happy with us. We are working with our partners and the Government is represented by our minister. We have our international partners — we have delegates from Germany. We actually make profit from the event,” he said. This comes as interim management, has inexplicably stopped a long-announced pensions-payroll audit to weed out fraudulent claims and a number of developmental or national empowerment programmes sanctioned by the Government.

Sources told The Herald Finance and Business that the trained medical doctor had gone on a week-long junket which was likely to cost the compulsory pensions fund nearly US$300 000.

“In the midst of Treasury concerns about improper financial conduct, Dr Shava and his team have decided to take a bloated 130-plus delegation of people for an annual gig that is ordinarily held in Harare,” said a participant, adding to compound matters the NSSA entourage “was twice bigger than other attendees and OSH was not a core institutional function”.

“When one considers that an Air Zimbabwe ticket was averaging US$325 to Victoria Falls, full-board seven-day accommodation at the Kingdom Hotel, conference facility or venue hires, other services and the mish-mash of travellers — including clerks, some board members, Labour Ministry officials, alliance partners and some stakeholders — nothing more could be extravagant and malfeasant,” they said. Just as the Matabeleland North trip and controversy has dire consequences on NSSA’s governance standing or reputation, the decision to scrap or abandon the pensions payroll-audit contradicts President Mnangagwa’s efforts to “clean up the State bureaucracy, and provide efficient services”.

While there are “strong indications that the jamboree was not fully budgeted for and sanctioned by the board”, the resort town workshop risks stretching the State pensions body’s finances at a time it has been struggling to provide decent retirement cover for ordinary Zimbabweans.

The Victoria Falls trip comes as Dr Shava’s caretaker executive has embarked on a “raft of cost-saving measures to include caps of American dollar-linked salaries and disbanding project teams for developmental initiatives such as its goat-breeding scheme, and others”.

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