By Nyore Madzianike
About US$3,5 million was paid to a local land developing company towards the construction of low housing units in Gweru, in a project mooted by former Cabinet Minister Prisca Mupfumira and National Social Security Authority (NSSA) ex-director contribution and collections officer, Barnabas Matongera.
This was done without the NSSA board’s approval and without following due tender processes, the court has heard.
The money was allegedly paid to Drawcard Enterprises out of the US$6,5 million that NSSA had committed towards construction of 1 000 low cost houses in Gweru urban.
This emerged from the court papers where Mupfumira is jointly appearing in court with Matongera on criminal abuse of office.
Mupfumira and Matongera’s trial on the charges had been set for November 18, 19 and 20 on a continuous roll.
The duo’s trial was supposed to have kicked-off yesterday, but they had not received all the papers from the State to prepare their defences.
Mupfumira, through her lawyer Mr Sylvester Hashiti, applied for the scrapping of her bail reporting conditions, but the State led by Mr Michael Reza refused to respond to the application, saying she was supposed to return to the High Court where she was initially granted bail.
The magistrate, Mr Ngoni Nduna, is expected to make a ruling on Mupfumira’s application on the relaxation of the bail conditions.
It is the State’s case that sometime in 2017, Mupfumira, being Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, mooted the idea of having a flagship project in Gweru where 1 000 low budget houses were to be built.
The houses, according to the State, were to be constructed within a possible shortest period of time.
In pursuance of her plan, Mupfumira then allegedly summoned NSSA chief property investment officer Mr Kurauone Chihota and influenced him to sign the Gweru Off-take project for 200 stands with Metbank.
The State said the decision was made knowing NSSA had no land in Gweru and that there was no board approval, and that tender procedures had not been followed.
Because of Mupfumira’s actions, Draw Card Private Limited, which is into land development, and also happens to be Metbank’s client, was awarded the contract to construct the houses.
Drawcard Enterprises, according to the State, had no land in Gweru urban despite having been awarded the contract to develop the 200 housing units.
The State said Drawcard Enterprises had land in Vungu Rural District, which was not incorporated in Gweru city boundary for it to access urban housing development services.
Matongera, who was the then acting NSSA general manager and accounting officer signed the housing Off-Take for Muzenya Gweru housing project on August 3, 2017.
He was said to be fully aware that there was no board resolution on the matter.
Drawcard Enterprises is said to have entered into an agreement with NSSA for development of residential stands in Vungu Rural District without the land being incorporated into Gweru urban.
As a result of Mupfumira and Matongera’s actions, NSSA committed to pay US$6,5 million and $3,5 million had already been paid towards the deal, according to the State. The Herald.