A comprehensive investigation has been instituted at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) amid allegations of misconduct, which have seen the general manager, Mr Arthur Manase, being suspended.
In a notice on Monday, NSSA chairman Dr Percy Toriro said the challenges were multi-layered and could be attributable to a variety of factors.
“Different State entities, including the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, have been seized with the issues. The board has also been seized with the issues. The board has also been conducting its own investigations into the allegations.
“A comprehensive investigation has been instituted to get to the bottom of the matters.
“To support this and ensure that the exercise is conducted in an independent and transparent environment, the board is sending the general manager on leave until the exercise is complete,” he said.
Dr Toriro said the board had in the interim appointed NSSA director of occupational safety and health Dr Charles Shava as acting general manager to ensure business continuity while the investigation takes place. However, speculation suggests the NSSA general manager is at the centre of a massive scandal relating to abuse of office and public funds at the institution.
Mr Manase allegedly received a US$750 000 housing loan, but continued to draw US$2 500 monthly in housing allowance to service the loan despite the fact that he already owns a home.
NSSA is a statutory corporate body tasked by the Government to provide social security. As a social security fund manager, NSSA looks after billions of dollars contributed by workers during years of active employment as well as investments from the compulsory collections.
The provision of social security entails instituting public policy measures intended to protect an individual in life situations or conditions in which his/her livelihood and wellbeing may be threatened, for instance due to sickness, workplace injuries, unemployment, invalidity, old age, retirement and death.
Recently, President Mnangagwa expressed displeasure over the rot at NSSA, just as it appeared the authority had overcome corruption-related challenges from its recent past, as the number of workers contributing subscriptions at the Authority was ballooning, a sign that the economy was thriving.
“Yet more disturbing news comes from there. On the eve of my departure for Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, I got a disheartening report pointing to corporate rot at NSSA.
“This is not the first time the Government got such disturbing reports; NSSA has been a thorn in our flesh, a pain that will not go away,” he said.
The Second Republic has vowed to escalate the fight against corruption as the vice curtails economic development.
In a bid to eradicate corruption, the Government has established the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
Earlier this year, Mr Manase conceded the statutory pensions body’s image had been heavily compromised by acts of dishonesty, opaque transactions, corruption and financial impropriety by some of its staffers.
He said NSSA had adopted a paradigm shift anchored on three pillars, which are transparency, honesty and accountability.
“We need to create a new NSSA anchored on three pillars of transparency, honesty and accountability. It has to cleanse its past as business in the past was shrouded in secrecy,” Mr Manase was quoted as saying.
Recently, NSSA issued a joint statement with the Zimbabwe National Pensioners Forum Trust claiming that there was a clique in the organisation working to derail the institution’s transformational agenda and seeking to take the organisation back to the days of non-accountability and poor service delivery.
The organisation has in the past hogged the limelight for the wrong reasons and in one instance former Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira was arrested and charged with a litany of charges based on criminal abuse of office, linked to NSSA, during her tenure of office .
The ex-minister was the first person to be arrested by the then newly appointed Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and also became the first Cabinet minister to be victim to the anti-graft drive under President Mnangagwa’s administration.
She stood accused of having siphoned over US$500 000 from NSSA for personal use and over US$40 million in “illegal” investments she reportedly directed the State pension manager during her tenure as Public Service Minister.
According to the charge sheet, the former minister verbally instructed then permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka to get a loan advance of US$90 000 for the purchase of her ministerial vehicle (Toyota Land Cruiser ADX-0878) with full knowledge that NSSA does not have that provision.
After purchasing the vehicle from Croco Motors, Mupfumira allegedly went on to accept another ministerial vehicle from the Government, a Range Rover registration ADY-6878.
The charge sheet also alleged that Mupfumira received US$101 814,80 from NSSA’s corporate social responsibility budget and converted the sum to personal use detailed under “advances to parent ministry”.
Mupfumira is alleged to have ordered NSSA to inflate its budget to US$350 000 before claiming US$303 520 for personal and political interests in her constituency.
She was also accused of having directed the advancement of US$62 250 000 worth of Treasury Bills in March 2017 as double cover to a local bank, which in turn misappropriated US$37 035 000 of it.
Another US$4 908 750 was allegedly lost to the same bank in June 2017 in an opaque housing scheme as a result of a directive alleged to have come from Mupfumira who demanded that the deal be signed within 48 hours.
Similarly, Anti-corruption officials opened fresh investigations against former general manager James Matiza, who had earlier been arrested and charged for improper conduct in 2017, over alleged corrupt involvement in the purchase of an office park in Borrowdale between 2012-2014, which was alleged to have been overpriced by US$12 million.
The anomaly in the purchase of the property was raised by a forensic audit specifically on the office block by Grant Thornton titled “Report of factual findings on acquisition of Celestial Park”.