The implementation of comprehensive reforms at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has begun as Government moves in to cleanse corruption and poor corporate governance at the Authority, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza has said.
In an interview, Dr Nzenza said the recent audit by BDO Chartered Accountants followed due diligence, adding that criminal proceedings will be pursued against those who broke the law.
Scandals at NSSA have so far led to the arrest of former minister Priscah Mupfumira, who is currently in remand prison pending trial for alleged involvement in corrupt dealings involving millions of US dollars.
Former NSSA board chair Robin Vela, Goromonzi North legislator Ozias Bvute and businessman Adam Molai also feature prominently in the audit report.
Dr Nzenza said she will focus on instituting a proper governance structure at NSSA to improve the welfare of pensioners, who are currently receiving paltry monthly payouts.
“The most important people are the beneficiaries and sometimes we tend to forget who we are trying to serve. The people who have been disadvantaged are the beneficiaries,” she said.
“Pensioners are complaining that what they are receiving, compared to the cost of living, is too low. That’s part of the review process that we are looking at. We also realise the urgency of the matter. ln July we were able to give them a bonus, like an extra month’s payout.
“We did that in July, but we need to review the pensions upwards. However it’s not going to be easy because of our current economic situation. Nonetheless the board and management are seriously looking into this.”
Dr Nzenza said NSSA has started hunting for a new chief executive, someone who will be able to steer the pension fund in a new direction.
Before the NSSA audit was made public, Dr Nzenza was accused of deliberately delaying its presentation to Parliament.
However, she said the delay in tabling the report before the August House was occasioned by the need for due diligence. To that end, legal experts were hired to unpack the audit findings.
Dr Nzenza said one of the legal experts, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, has been able to detect prosecutable criminal conduct.
“I needed an expert in criminal law, and that’s Thabani Mpofu. We needed his advice on the report to say look, do you think in this report there are any criminal elements or are we just talking about malpractices, misconduct, and maladministration?
“So he was able to say he could identify what he saw as criminal elements,” said Dr Nzenza. The Sunday Mail