Norton legislator Temba Mliswa’s letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa pleading for a forensic investigation into the operations of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has opened a can of worms with a central figure in the alleged scandal making counter claims of nepotism, extortion and corruption against the legislator.
Mliswa last month wrote to Mnangagwa, detailing the alleged corruption, which he claimed was engineered by fired NSSA board chairperson Robin Vela.
The dossier was also handed over to vice-presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, Labour and Social Welfare minister Petronella Kagonye, Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu, army commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda, prosecutor-general Ray Goba, police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission [Zacc] and Central Intelligence Organisation director-general Isaac Moyo, among others.
The self-styled corruption buster detailed how underhand dealings were allegedly being engineered to fleece NSSA under Vela’s watch.
However, Vela on May 11 hit back with his own 256-page dossier that cast aspersions on Mliswa’s credibility and accused him of being involved in criminal activities.
Vela was fired from the NSSA board early this year by Kagonye following claims that he lived in South Africa, but he is challenging the charge.
The document obtained by The Standard claims the relationship between Vela and Mliswa went sour after the businessman refused to fund the MP’s political activities using NSSA money.
Mliswa also allegedly tried to get Vela’s support to overturn the demotion of his former-wife Cynthia Mugwira, who was deemed incompetent by NSSA management.
“On 16 January 2018, Temba Mliswa visited (my) private offices in Colne Valley and, inter alia, sought financial support from (me) personally or NSSA for his activities as a politician,” Vela wrote.
“(I) rebuffed this. At the same meeting, Temba Mliswa sought (my) support to reverse the (NSSA) general manager’s decision to split the role of Ms Mugwira.
“(I) explained that this was a management issue in which I could not intervene. At no point did Mliswa mention any sexual harassment claim.
“Feeling disgruntled as Mliswa had not got what he wanted, [he] then caused an audio note to go viral a mere few hours later.
“This audio note was a means to intimidate and threaten, as well as extort money from me as Mliswa has a longstanding established history of doing so to anyone he perceives of being of any substance.”
Vela also revealed how Mliswa allegedly pressured former Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira to facilitate the employment of his ex-wife by NSSA despite the fact that she had performed badly in the job interviews.
Mugwira, who was employed as the group legal and corporate executive, also had an inferior degree class, Vela alleges in the letter to Mnangagwa.
“Interestingly, the author does not talk about the pressure he put on minister Mupfumira to appoint the mother of his children, Ms Cynthia Mugwira, as the NSSA group legal and corporate secretarial executive on the basis of gender,” Vela wrote in the response also copied to Ziyambi, Zacc and auditor-general Mildred Chiri.
“It is a fact that Ms Mugwira was not short-listed as a candidate by the recruitment committee because she was not qualified, having only obtained a third class degree in law, following repeated failings in numerous basic key subjects and not having had any job experience at such level in any organisation, let alone one of the size or standing of NSSA,” he added.
Mugwira, who graduated in 2006, was ranked below Allen Masiya in the interviews, but still got the job.
“Having realised that the mother of his two children had failed to be short-listed and appointed based on merit and through due process, Mliswa abused his position and pressured the then minister of Labour to have Cynthia appointed on the basis of her gender,” Vela added.
Vela claims that Mugwira used to hold private meetings with former Labour minister Patrick Zhuwao and at times would record NSSA board meetings for the then minister with a view to “capture both NSSA and NBS (National Building Society)”.
Vela said the NSSA board decided to split Mugwira’s roles and hire another person after realisation that she was incompetent. Mugwira raised allegations of sexual abuse against the then NSSA boss who is denying them.
Vela pleaded with Mnangagwa to institute a forensic audit at NSSA and all projects undertaken by his board to test Mliswa’s allegations.
However, Mliswa remained unfazed when The Standard sought his response to the allegations, saying he could not have influenced Mugwira’s appointment as he had no influence after leaving Zanu PF.
“Writing to the president does not clear him of the crimes he has committed, the president has not asked him for an explanation, the president has a detailed account of what he has done,” said Mliswa.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy chairperson said the media was biased by reporting Vela’s account of what transpired at NSSA, instead of investigating the alleged corruption.
“If you are a fair media, deal with issues of corruption that I brought up, not allegations of extortion, which everybody says I am extorting them, but they don’t report (to the police),” he said.
“Why does Robin Vela not report to the police that I was extorting him and why bring it up now after I have done what I have done?
“So he is not a good citizen, for he does not deserve to sit on any board.”
Meanwhile, in the dossier that also contains confidential emails and screenshots of Mliswa’s tweets allegedly threatening Vela with citizen arrest, the former NSSA boss also disputes claims by the MP that the authority bankrolled a wedding for Mupfumira’s son.
“I have since established that Mr Tariro Mupfumira actually got married in Zimbabwe and not in South Africa as stated by Mliswa,” he wrote.
“Further, NSSA did not fund any part of the same. Mliswa must provide evidence to support this.”
Mliswa also alleged NSSA bought Mupfumira’s daughter a top-of-the-range vehicle, but Vela challenged the legislator to provide evidence.
The Norton MP alleged that NSSA was paying allowances to Mupfumira’s children through accounts held at MetBank.
“While I cannot speak on behalf of MetBank, I can state that no NSSA funds held by any institution were used for the benefit of any minister (let alone children of any of the ministers whom I served): Mupfumira, Zhuwao or Kagonye,” Vela wrote.
Mliswa’s corruption dossier, titled, The Abuse and Capture of National Social Security Authority, relates a series of alleged corruption activities, including the authority’s role in funding a local commercial bank without following due processes.
The report says government could have lost millions of dollars in the alleged corrupt activities.
It names senior government officials and other private sector players who allegedly benefited from corrupt deals.
“It would appear that corruption has been perpetrated over a protracted period of time at NSSA with impunity.
“As a Member of Parliament, I have been approached by numerous people from across the board and inundated with complaints and evidence, hence my submission herein,” Mliswa wrote to Mnangagwa in a letter dated April 25, 2018.
“I, therefore, hereby humbly submit the attached documents to prompt a full-scale investigation into the allegations as detailed in the documents.
“It would be prudent for a forensic audit to follow the entire paper trail of the transactions as there are allegations of the existence of offshore accounts, which would add credence to the corrupt affairs.
“I trust that the above is in order and that your esteemed office may deal with the matter accordingly.”
Mliswa, in the dossier, further claims that evidence at hand suggested NSSA had been “captured by a mafia-like cabal” which includes government ministers, businessmen and other players.
In a cover letter to Mnangagwa, Vela said he had to hand over confidential documents in order to clear his name.
“In order for me to give you the objective facts, I have to provide what are confidential and internal documents,” he wrote. “I have sought legal advice and I am advised that I am entitled to do so to you, and therefore do so without any breach of my continuing fudiciary duties to NSSA.
“My only desire being to set the record straight on the activities of NSSA during my tenure.
“I trust that the above and attached will give you an alternative view to that presented to you to date.
“That said, I have been on record as saying and reiterate herein that a forensic exercise into the affairs of NSSA should be carried out to put to bed the various misconceptions being put out.”
NSSA has been in the eye of a storm after Zacc commissioner in charge of investigations Goodson Nguni told journalists last month that former president Robert Mugabe’s relatives were at the centre of corrupt activities that had seen the authority losing millions of dollars.
Nguni is now being sued for $200 000 by businessman Adam Molai and his Housing Corporation Zimbabwe after the Zacc boss claimed the businessman was one of the beneficiaries of the alleged corrupt deals.