HARARE – A protracted court battle is looming in Zimbabwe after former NSSA Chairman Robin Vela filed an application with the High Court of Zimbabwe on Tuesday challenging the legality, objectivity and accuracy of a forensic investigation carried out by BDO Chartered Accountants on behalf of Auditor General Mildred Chiri.
The court challenge comes at a time Zimbabwe Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira is in remand prison on charges of fraud and money laundering following her arrest on the 25th of July 2019 by the reconstituted Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission (ZACC). Her charges emanate from the very same NSSA forensic investigation which has been rejected by Vela and one of the fingered enterprises, Housing Cooperation Zimbabwe. It is alleged Mupfumira siphoned millions from the pension funder during her time as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare.
Robin Vela is the former Chairman of NSSA
In his 18 paged submissions to the High Court, Vela, a chartered accountant by profession, highlighted aspects of constitutional illegality on the part of the Auditor General, and factual inconsistency, statistical inaccuracy and bias on the part of the accounting firm. The application also alleges a premeditated outcome of the investigation on grounds of malice, conflicted parties to the investigations, ignored written evidence and a vindictive approach to his persona by the respondents during investigation interactions. Robin Vela went on to expose alleged vote buying by a certain ruling party representative in 2017 using pension funds. In his submissions, Vela also gave evidence of alleged corruption committed at NSSA by former Ministers ,government representatives and high profile personalities , and queried why that evidence was deliberately ignored in this forensic investigation. ZACC recently got arresting powers but both ruling party and opposition party members have reservations on the constitution of ZACC as they believe that this commission, which falls under the office of the President of Zimbabwe, is using its powers selectively to settle political scores against targeted persons, an allegation which ZACC vehemently denies.
NSSA was created by an act of parliament – the National Social Security Act (Chapter 17:04) of 1989. The Act empowers the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to establish social security schemes for the provision of benefits to all employees. At present NSSA administers a pension scheme and an accident prevention and workers compensation scheme. With a vision of being a world class provider of social security, NSSA is invested in infrastructural projects, properties and on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange as part of its value preservation strategies for its members. As the NSSA legal battle unfolds, ZACC’s impartiality and the legality of NSSA’s infrastructural investments and governance practices is put to test as new fissures emerge in Zimbabwe’s corridors of power.
Click HERE to download Robin Vela’s full submission to the High Court of Zimbabwe.