By Kuda Bwititi
Former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) executives Shadreck Vera and Samuel Chiduza are on the run as investigations into the alleged siphoning of millions of US dollars from the institution continue.Police last week arrested former NSSA managing director James Matiza, who appeared in court facing charges of fraud and criminal abuse of office.
He was granted US$500 bail coupled with stringent conditions last Wednesday. Matiza’s alleged accomplices, Vera and Chiduza, are nowhere to be found and efforts to locate them at their respective homes in the upmarket suburbs of Borrowdale in Harare and Old Windsor Park in Ruwa last week proved fruitless.
The fugitive status of Vera and Chiduza highlights the fall of grace of the former top executives who were entrusted with superintending over millions of dollars of pensioners’ fund.
NSSA has repeatedly come under fire from hard-hit pensioners over low payouts at a time the authority made questionable investments in property, ailing banks and on the equities market. Police have launched a manhunt for the two former executives amid fears they could have skipped the country.
Police national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba last Friday told The Sunday Mail that, “The Zimbabwe Republic Police is appealing for information that can lead to the arrest of Shadreck Vera, last known address 17 Crinnis Road, Colne Valley, Borrowdale, Harare and Samuel Patrick Chiduza of 3864 Njiri Road, Old Windsor Park.”
Senior Asst Comm Charamba said police visited the residences several times and failed to locate them.
“The duo is wanted in connection with a case of fraud which occurred at National Social Security Authority where they were employed as executives in different portfolios. Police have checked with their last known addresses to no avail. The third suspect (Matiza) in the alleged offence is already appearing in court.
“Anyone with information on their whereabouts can report at the nearest police station, CID Commercial Crimes on telephone numbers 04-7719994, Chief Superintendent Nyamupaguma on 0716800105 or National Complaints Desk on 04-703631.”
According to the State, Matiza’s allegedly bought a Harare property for US$32 million for the authority after concealing a report by Bard Real Estate which priced the building at US$24 million.
CB Richard Ellis, another real estate firm, came up with a gross replacement cost of US$24,354 million and a market price of US$25,6 million; while Green Plan (Pvt) Ltd pegged the price at US$36,5 million.
The three reports were to be tabled to the NSSA board of adjudication before an agreement of sale was entered, but it is alleged Matiza deliberately concealed Bard’s report and presented the two pricier assessments.
It is alleged that “at all material times, NSSA was represented by the accused and his accomplices Shadreck Vera who was the investments director and Samuel Chiduza, former properties manager, who are still at large”.
Allegations against the executives emerged after an audit last year.
Part of the audit report reads, “Given the significant difference of US$12,5 million between the two market values derived by the independent valuers, one would have expected both reports to have been tabled for discussion and Bard valuation included for determining the offer for bargaining purposes.
“The agreement of sale entered into with Matay-King did not adequately protect the authority’s interest. Lack of a due diligence on potential tenants on the part of Nssa prior to acquiring the property and non-compliance with State Procurement Board guidelines in relation to the construction of an access road to Celestial Park as well as breaches of Nssa’s own policies in respect of acquisition of property investments.”
NSSA was constituted and established in terms of the NSSA Act of 1989 (Chapter 17:04) and is a statutory corporate body tasked by Government to provide social security.
It administers pensions and other benefits portfolios like the Accident Prevention and Workers’ Compensation Scheme. The parastatal has been under the spotlight for alleged shambolic investments which prejudiced the authority of close to US$100 million. – The Sunday Mail