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Nssa’s former head resigned in the face of 30 serious corruption allegations!

Nssa's former head resigned in the face of 30 serious corruption allegations!

Harare | Arthur Johnson Manase, the head of the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), recently resigned after being charged with more than 30 counts of corruption, including extreme inefficiency and incompetence, intentional disobedience of lawful commands, and theft or fraud, according to papers seen by ZiMetro News.

Manase, who had been on vacation since July last year while investigations into a series of mismanagement and fraudulent actions at the statutory pension fund were ongoing, recently resigned as general manager, the pinnacle NSSA post, under the weight of over 30 counts of maladministration and misconduct.

According to documents obtained by ZiMetro News, Manase is accused of corruption in the following areas:

  • violation of procurement regulations,
  • imposition of contractors and service providers without a competitive bidding process,
  • irregular purchase and disposal of properties,
  • illegal cash withdrawals,
  • illegal sale of shares,
  • lack of proper accounting for transactions,
  • improper transfer of funds,
  • inappropriate investments, and
  • wrong investment disposals

The allegations also include the implementation of an unapproved remuneration framework, unauthorized condition of service motor vehicle frameworks, unlawful acquisition of motor vehicles, unprocedural granting of loans through Nssa instead of the National Building Society (NBS), United States dollar loans improperly paid back in local currency, illegal housing loan tenures, double-dipping and abuse of public funds in executives’ solar installation projects, and appointments with the National Building Society (NBS).

Following his suspension without pay and benefits in July of last year and following corruption investigations, Nssa decided to suspend Manase with effect from July 28, 2023.

This was awaiting his appearance before a disciplinary committee and hearing in accordance with section 12B of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) as read in conjunction with the Labour (National Employment Code of Conduct) Regulations, 2006 (SI 15 of 2006).

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Manase was charged with misbehaviour, wilful defiance of legitimate directions, and theft or fraud.

“Nssa signed a composite loan agreement with NBS, whereby NBS was to take over the administration and provision of loans to Nssa employees, effective from 1 November 2016,” according to a document.

“However, you caused Nssa to extend housing loans directly to seven executive employees, including yourself, totalling US$2 898 472.02, as well as motor vehicle loans totalling US$1 097 747.73 to 15 executive employees.” As a result, you failed to follow the established procedure for obtaining loans from executive personnel.

“Your aforementioned conduct violated the express and/or implied terms of your employment contract.” Furthermore, your actions amounted to theft/fraud.”

According to documents, Manase directed Nssa to acquire listed and unlisted equity investments, enter into joint ventures, and disburse some loans prior to the fulfilment of conditions precedent, board and ministerial approvals, and other necessary procedures beginning January 1, 2020.

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“Further, you permitted funds to be disbursed to projects and/or for investments before precedent conditions had been satisfied and without safeguarding Nssa’s interests on some investments,” a document claims.

“For instance, Nssa’s funds were used to pay almost the full fund-raising fees to a related party before the other investors had made their contributions on the authority’s investment in Centragrid Investments (Pvt) Ltd.

“Therefore, in your capacity as the authority’s chief accounting officer, you failed to protect the authority’s interests and exposed the authority to the risk of financial loss.

Your actions above violated the stated and/or implied provisions of your employment contract. Additionally, your actions amounted to inefficiency or incompetence in carrying out your tour obligations.

The documents further claim that Manase participated in inappropriate investment disposals without the required permissions, specifically with reference to National Tyre Services Ltd, Masimba, and Bindura Nickel Corporation.

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Nssa occasionally received unsolicited proposals to purchase its interests in other firms, which were then disposed off without open bidding or the required authorisations.

Manase failed to inform the Competition and Tariff Commision when selling Turnall shares as required.

“For some disposals, the authority was paid through a swap for CBZ Bank Ltd shares, which resulted in an increase of Nssa’s shareholding when the board had approved the banking portfolio refocus strategy where the authority wanted to reduce its shareholding to 9%,” according to the paper.

Another accusation made in the paper is that Manase failed to follow the Corporate Governance Unit (CGU) instructions for Nssa to ensure that its pay system was consistent with the new remuneration framework that had been authorised by the cabinet.

The document states that on April 11, 2022, the Office of the President and Cabinet sent a second letter to the minister, advising him to make sure Nssa conforms with the authorised compensation system, the PPDPA, and the Public Enterprises Corporate Governance Act.

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“On the other hand, you failed to execute the CGU orders, which the NSSA did not do until March 2023. Nssa experienced a loss of around US$58 019 and ZW$19 859 040 for the time frame of 1 January 2021 to 30 September 2022 as a result of paying executives unapproved allowances and perks.

Additionally, between January 1, 2020, and January 1, 2022, you authorised the payment of some benefits totalling US$265 820 that had not been authorised by the board. Therefore, you intentionally disobeyed and/or refused to carry out legal orders, which cost the authority money by paying unauthorised wages and perks.

Paul Mavima’s illicit $400 000 high-end house sale in Quinnington, Borrowdale, Harare was also overseen by Manase, the former minister of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare.

Additionally, Nssa engaged in another fraudulent transaction involving a commercial property in Kariba with a US$220,000 worth.

After discussions, the property was purchased for US$215 000, but US$244 000 was actually paid. This indicates that $29 000 was stolen.

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Attempts by Manase and his team to sell Nssa’s stakes in OK Zimbabwe without board consent also failed.

According to a document, “In April 2022, Nssa management entered into a transaction whereby Nssa would sell 123 835 670 OKZ shares to Croco Motors (Pvt) (later changed to Palmwealth Investments (Pvt) Limited) for a price of ZW$3 715 070 110, constituting 9.83% of OKZ issued share capital.”

“The acquisition price for the OKZ shares was to be paid in part in cash and in part by Croco Motors delivering to Nssa automobiles valued at US$2, 404,614.

“Even though the contract was orally terminated on April 26, 2022, the NSSA board did not authorise the planned transaction. Additionally, the procedure for purchasing automobiles was against the cabinet-approved condition of service vehicles policy and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (PPDPA).

You therefore violated internal control mechanisms and exposed the authority to the risk of violation of PPDPA regulations.”

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Nssa executives received house loans with erroneous and illegal terms.

The paper states, “Regardless of the beneficiary’s age and contract tenure, housing loan entitlement for executives was computed as three and a half times one’s annual basic salary and loan repayments are being spread over 25 years.”

“Due to your actions, you exposed the authority to the risk of failing to recoup the loans granted should the employees with outstanding loan balances retire or have their employment contracts terminated,” the judge said.

Documents also show that nine Nssa officials double-dipped on the solar system installation.

“You allowed or approved some executives (including yourself) who had accessed housing loans, which also incorporated funding for solar installations to benefit under the programme, thereby resulting in double funding for solar installations,” the document indicates.

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“The solar installation tender was awarded to a contractor at a total price of US$167 685 and Nssa paid a deposit of US$100 611 on 12 August 2021. However, the contractor failed to deliver as per contract, and attempts by Nssa to liquidate the performance guarantee issued by Metbank was not successful.”

Manase is also accused of making appointments without following Nssa guidelines and unlawfully staffing his office, while making illegal promotions and unprocedural staff transfers amid charges.

On cars, documents say: “You unlawfully implemented a policy of availing condition of service vehicles, in addition to motor vehicle loans in violation of the 20 March 2018 cabinet-approved circular on conditions of service vehicles for independent commissions, state enterprises and parastatals.

“You unlawfully acquired and/or funded acquisition of six vehicles using the authority’s resources for your own use within a period of two years contrary to provisions of the circular on conditions of service vehicles.”

Manase was charged with failing to convene the 2020 and 2021 annual general meetings on schedule.

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Manase was accused of deceiving the board with charges of corruption against management at Nssa that were widely disseminated on social media.

The board asked management to address the claims of looting at NSSA, and management developed a paper for the board to address the charges, according to the document.

“However, investigations have shown that the material you and your team gave to the board omitted or distorted some important details, or both, of some relevant facts.

“On May 24, 2022, Nssa received a question about the allegations from Zimbabwe Independent. You asked Prudence Mutsvanga, a former lawyer for Alpha Media Holdings who is now with Nssa, to handle the situation. Prudence Mutsvanga replied to you by saying: “Thank you, I’m getting in touch with Tendai (Mutseyekwa, who is in charge of Nssa marketing and communications). We hope to see Wisdom (Mudzungairi, former editor of NewsDay and AMH) or Faith (Zaba, editor of the Zimbabwe Independent) tomorrow. We can repress it because we have enough power.

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