Minister sweats over Nssa audit

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© PRESSURE is mounting on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Sekai Nzenza to release to Parliament a damning audit report on the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) — amid claims that a staggering US$82 million was looted by former and current serving Cabinet ministers.

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The MDC’s leader in the House, Tendai Biti — who once served as Finance minister during the short-lived but stability-inducing government of national unity (GNU) — told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the audit was long overdue to be presented in Parliament.

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The Harare East MP said the immediate release of the audit report would leave no room for speculation, as was the case now.
However, Nzenza told the National Assembly this week that she was not under any obligation to table the report in the august House, in a move which drew howls of protests from MPs.

“I have consulted on the matter and come to know that there is no legal obligation for me to table that Nssa report in this House. I will table it when I am done because there is need to simplify some of the issues,” she told the National Assembly.

Her response did not go down well with the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, who recently accused Nzenza of dithering with regards to presenting the report.

“If you recall, two weeks ago you said you wanted 30 days. Recently you indicated that you are going to bring it in 14 days’ time. What has changed?” Mudenda asked.

Nzenza dug in and insisted that there was no law which obliged her to bring the report to the House, which is said to have exposed how some senior government officials, as well as current and former ministers allegedly got massive loans from Nssa.

“Speaker, what has changed is that I have read the Act. I am supposed to table, but the Act doesn’t outline the time frame. The audit is going to be available but it still being looked into,” she said.

The report was first tabled in Cabinet, then transmitted to the Auditor-General, Mildred Chiri — who subsequently handed it over to Nzenza in March.

Successive audits have lifted the lid on the alleged looting of Nssa, with the Deloitte Advisory Services audit report of 2005 raising alarm over staggering amounts of tax interest and penalties on payroll incurred from executives’ salaries and benefits.

Salaries of top bosses were said to be running up to US$30 000 each, with the bosses also accessing loans of more than US$2 million.

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