Zimbabwe: NSSA Scandal - Ex-Labour Minister Kagonye Blew U.S.$400k On Pre-Election Campaign Projects

National Social Security Authority building (file photo).

THE fall-out over the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) forensic audit report that has been turned into a sharp-edged sword by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission took a twist this week when former board chairperson Robin Vela sought not only to have it set aside by the High Court but also sucked in former Minister Petronella Kagonye.

Tourism Minister Priscah Mupfumira who served just before Kagonye at Public Service is currently in remand prison awaiting trial for her role in the looting at the State pensions administrator.

In his application filed with the High Court this week, Vela who accused private auditors BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants of a shoddy job and targeting him personally in a bid to soil his image claims Kagonye forced his board to unprocedurally shell out US$400,000 towards her political campaign.

Vela wants the forensic audit report set aside adding it was incomplete and biased.

"I must also point out that the report makes no mention of the fact that Kagonye forced Nssa to 'sponsor' to the tune of US$200,000 a disability conference in her Caledonia constituency and a further sum of US$200,000 to a school in Ruwa immediately prior to the July 2018 elections," Vela claims in his application.

Besides Kagonye, Vela also implicates the Ministry's former permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka who has already been identified in the audit report as having been at the centre of Mupfumirai's looting and the then principal director Simon Masanga. Masanga apparently is now the ministry's permanent secretary.

According to Vela, Kagonye's conference was a vote buying gimmick.

"This vote buying, done through pensioners' funds for private benefit is not mentioned. Is it because the auditors had a wider political audience to satisfy or otherwise to not offend?" he asked.

Mupfumira was arrested and charged with criminal abuse of office with the State early this week indicating it was ready to slap her with more charges including money laundering.

State papers claim Mupfumira used her influence to funnel money to companies she was connected to as well as payments to accounts she holds with different banks. The Tourism Minister also stands accused of leaning on Nssa to make "risky" investment decision from which she and her associates would benefit. Nssa according to court papers was prejudiced to the tune of $95 million.

According to Vela Auditor General Mildred Chiri, the custodian of the forensic report produced by BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants went beyond her "constitutional powers" and the auditors had a clear agenda given the tone of their questioning during the investigation that he has now called into question.

"The manner in which the investigators (BDO) went about their task speaks to their incompetence, which incompetence affects the outcome of the report... there is malice that permeates and pervades the whole report," Vela said.

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