By Brian Chitemba
Anti-corruption officials have opened fresh investigations into the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) over the purchase of an office park in Borrowdale, which is alleged to have been overpriced by US$12 million.
The probe is being spearheaded by the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) in the Office of the President and Cabinet and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc).
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”.
Sacu chair Mr Tabani Mpofu told The Sunday Mail that an investigation into the alleged corruption by former Nssa bosses in buying Celestial Park was underway.
“We have referred the Celestial Park forensic audit to Zacc for a thorough investigation with an aim of preferring criminal charges to those who are liable,” he said.
Under the management of Mr James Matiza, Nssa bought Celestial Park for US$36 million from Matay-Kingdom despite valuations which placed the total building cost at US$24 million.
Between 2012 and 2014, Nssa scouted for three reputable independent estate valuators, one of which placed the estimated cost of Celestial Park at US$36,5 million while the other two companies quoted the office block at between US$24 million and US$25 million.
The Grant Thornton audit report reads, “BARD performed an independent valuation which had placed the market value of Celestial Park at US$24 million as at 27 May 2014, just two weeks before the GreenPlan valuation which placed the market value at US$36,5 million as at 15 June 2014.
“By not using the BARD valuation report as a basis of negotiating, the authority could potentially have been prejudiced of US$8 million.”
The Celestial Park purchase price jumped from US$32 million to US$36 million, due to a US$4 million value added tax which was not included in the original agreement of sale.
“Indications from enquiries with the seller were that he feels entitled to this amount because of an agreement he had made with the former executives that they would reimburse him this amount,” wrote the auditors.
There was also an agreement of sale dispute between Nssa and Matay-Kingdom resulting in a law firm which was overseeing the transaction to withhold US$582 503 in interests generated in money that was deposited into the law firm’s trust account.
“As such, depending on the resolution of this dispute, Nssa may be prejudiced to the extent that the agreement of sale was unable to protect the authority’s interests with regards to clarification as to the effective date of occupation.”
Auditors also raised a red flag over flouting of procurement regulations after awarding a road construction tender to Tensor Systems without going for an informal tender.
Nssa failed to conduct due diligence on potential tenants into Celestial Park after using a list supplied by the seller.
The authority was created through the Nssa Act to provide social security, but the pensioners’ money has been grossly abused over the years.
Recently, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira was arrested over corruption allegations involving US$95 million of pensioners’ money.
The alleged abuses come at a time when pensioners are getting about $80 per month. The Sunday Mail