By Prosper Dembedza
Former Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Ngoni Masoka and James Chiuta, a former general manager’s strategic assistant in the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts facing charges of criminal abuse of office involving US$50 million.
Masoka, who retired in September last year, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with four counts of criminal abuse of office as a public officer involving US$7 million, while Chiuta was facing one count involving US$37,5 million.
Allegations against Masoka stemmed from 2015 when he was the ministry’s accounting officer.
Masoka and Chiuta separately appeared before Harare magistrate Mrs Vongai Muchuchuti, who remanded their case to September 6 on $5 000 bail each.
The State, represented by Mr Charles Muchemwa, consented to bail.
Mr Muchemwa alleged that Masoka, acting in common purpose with then Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira and contrary to his duties, ordered NSSA to release US$90 000 without Treasury authority to buy an undeserved vehicle for the former minister from Croco Motors.
Mupfumira is in custody in connection with criminal abuse of office.
It is the State’s case that Masoka’s actions showed favour to Mupfumira and prejudiced NSSA of US$90 000 which has remained unpaid to date.
On the second count, the State alleged that sometime in 2015, Masoka, using his position as permanent secretary and interim NSSA board chairperson, and acting in connivance with Mupfumira, unlawfully authorised the purchase of four Metbank properties at a cost of US$4 908 750.
NSSA, according to the State, was prejudiced as it had no intention of buying the properties.
On another count, it is alleged that sometime in 2016, Masoka unlawfully directed NSSA to release money amounting to US$68 000 from NSSA’s social corporate responsibility budget which was used for other activities that are outside the mandate of the parastatal to the benefit of Mupfumira’s business associates.
On the fourth count, the State alleged that sometime in 2017 and in the exercise of his functions, Masoka corruptly used his position by approving a review of the remuneration structure at NSSA, resulting in additional cost to NSSA to the tune of US$291 081.
Masoka is also alleged to have approved the payment of performance related bonuses amounting to US$1 830 039.
On Chiuta, the State alleged that sometime in October 2017 he acted contrary to his duties and in common purpose with former NSS general manager Mrs Elizabeth Chitiga, wrote a letter authorising Metbank to use Treasury Bills held by the financial institution on behalf of NSSA without the parastatal’s board approval.
As a result of Chiuta’s authorisation, Metbank issued Treasury Bills worth US$37 350 000.
TBs worth US$20 million have been recovered.
Both Masoka and Chiuta were ordered to report to police twice a week, surrender their travelling documents, not to interfere with witnesses and continue to reside at their given addresses.
Meanwhile, former Zimbabwe Power company board chairperson, Stanley Kazhanje was yesterday convicted of concealing a transaction from a principal after he received $10 000 from controversial bisinesman Wickinell Chivhayo.
Harare regional magistrate Mr Hosea Mujaya convicted Kazhanje and deferred the matter to today for sentence. The Herald