By Joyce Mukucha
The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Sekai Nzenza dismissed social media claims that she was hiding fearing the arrest over alleged corruption. Addressing the media at a press conference held in Harare on the 29th of July 2019, Dr Nzenza said she was in Chikomba East in Mashonaland East dealing with society-related matters.
Nzenza emphasised that she was not on the run and dismissed some social media information accusing her of being bribed by the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Prisca Mupfumira to protect her in as much as her crimes at NSSA were concerned. The allegations against Minister Mupfumira come from a NSSA audit where millions of dollars went missing by the time she was the mister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
“In as much as these allegations on social media are concerned that I have been hiding, I was not hiding. I have a village, I go to the constituency on Fridays. When I go there the network does not operate properly. There are crocodiles down there in Save river that are stressing community members giving them problems, that is where I was. I wasn’t aware that there were plenty of stories happening on social media.
“Mangwana only called me yesterday morning to confirm whether I was on the run or not. I have a lot of work to do not to dwell on nonsensical stories on social media that distract me away from what is at stake. What is at stake ladies and gentlemen is that, I have a responsibility towards safeguarding the contributions of pensions. As far as I know, I have absolutely nothing to hide. I don’t want to dwell on smearing nonsensical topics, I have work to do,” she said.
Responding to the question of bribery accusations and on why there has been delays in terms of issuing out the report to the public, Dr Nzenza highlighted that she had not found it difficult to make the report public. Instead, there are processes that must be followed when a forensic report is initiated by the executive before presenting it. The NSSA forensic report, she said, was still being simplified by legal experts while corruption matters are being handled by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
“The forensic report has all irregularities. If there are elements of the criminal nature within the forensic report that was the matter for the courts, which is the matter for the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. This is to ensure that there is accountability, transparency and good governance to safeguard the interests of those who will be entrusted with the subscriptions through their work. The mandate of the ministry is to safeguard the interests of the pensioners and as well as the employees. It is my responsibility as a minister to ensure the protection of the pensioners’ integrity of the pension party,” she said.
In doing so, she said she was following the vision of the President presented for 2030 which focuses on the mandate that there should be practice of efficiency, transparency, accountability and good corporate governance.
Dr Nzenza said there has been several issues around corporate governance and because of that the ministry felt it was appropriate to have this forensic report through the Auditor General and this was one of the documents. There have been challenges, she highlighted, regarding corporate governance within the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) matters. The ministry is said to have looked at the document very exhaustively and thoroughly.
“We have tried to analyse and make sure that what is reported is authentic. As reported to you last month, we have been working very close with ministry and we have some legal advisors we have engaged and are working very closely with us to ensure that we look at this report exhaustively and deal with all the issues that are arising. It took longer but I know I have an obligation to present and it shall be, very soon,” said Dr Nzenza.
The NSSA board chairperson Dr Cuthbert Chidoori highlighted that the audit report was not a creation of the board or just a mere write up. The document, he said would be issued out to the public at the right time so as to make sure that everything will be reliable. He indicated that the report was something which the ministry requested formerly through the auditor general and the NSSA board.
“The NSSA audit is not something which is private, it goes through all issues that are taking place within the organisation. It will be brought to the public as well as to our stakeholders in particular. That report was done by the Auditor General and when the board came in, the Auditor General availed it through the ministry to us. We had our time to look at the report and there is need to work on the forensic report and there are issues inside it that need to be unpacked by the experts,” he said.
Dr Chidoori said there are also recommendations on board that need to be taken and systematically implemented within the organisation in a way which seeks to create a good NSSA with a good image.
“As we engage with the legal advisors, it’s important that we engage the recommendations coming from this board. The report should be examined carefully by the board. I can guarantee you that the board correctly deals with the issues within the report. If there is money that needs to be recovered, we will do that. It is our duty to provide national security scheme to all Zimbabweans. This is a specific forensic report focusing on various misdemeanours and it won’t be right to throw it to the public without exercising due diligence to make sure everything is exhaustively dealt with,” Chidoori said.