Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) forensic audit which exposed massive corruption and fraud at the State-run pension administrator, comes under spotlight at the High Court this week.
Former chairman Robin Vela was at the helm of NSSA when US$95 million in pension funds was allegedly misappropriated.
Vela is challenging the credibility of the audit, arguing that it was an “incompetent report compiled by an unqualified audit team”.
The matter has been set for hearing on Wednesday before Justice Webster Chinamora.
The report has since claimed the scalp of former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira and former permanent secretary in the ministry, Ngoni Masoka, who have been arrested for allegedly looting NSSA funds.
Their criminal abuse of office cases are at different levels in the courts.
Mupfumira has since been fired from Government.
Vela is suing Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri and BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants for allegedly preparing the report with malicious intent.
He is asking the High Court to review portions of the report that implicate him.
“It is my contention that the audit report which I seek to impugn is without jurisdiction, irregular, unreasonable, incompetent, biased, malicious and unfair in a manner which violates section 3(1)(a) of the AJA (Administrative Justice Act).
“In the alternative and to the extent that it becomes necessary, I seek to invoke this court’s review powers as set out under sections 26 and 27 of the High Court Act as well as the common law,” stated Vela in his application filed last year.
He questioned BDO’s profile considering it had no track record of handling high-profile jobs. The BDO report, Vela argues, goes beyond what is expected of the Auditor-General’s Office.
It is Mr Vela’s contention that the report by BDO did not constitute a forensic investigation because those who produced it were not qualified.
In the report, Vela was accused of prevailing upon NSSA management to authorise a US$16 million payment to a property development company, Housing Corporation Zimbabwe (HCZ).
Vela has reported BDO Zimbabwe to their parent company in Belgium over what he said was an “evidently biased, politically-motivated and incompetent and incomplete forensic audit.”
In October last year, Vela’s lawyers, Rubaya and Chatambudza, wrote to BDO International’s global office in Belgium threatening to sue for £5 million.
Vela’s lawyers demanded a response by October 31.
“It is our client’s considered view that BDO Zimbabwe partner, who signed off the report and the persons who compiled the report are neither qualified nor accredited forensic investigators by any institution,” the lawyers said.
Vela alleged that the auditors were biased against him after they gave him a biased questionnaire.