NSSA Forensic Audit High Court Challenge Kicks Off

By Mary Taruvinga

HIGH Court judge, Justice Webster Chinamhora will Wednesday hear the case in which former National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board chairperson Robin Vela is seeking an order to set aside the findings of the authority’s forensic report.

The report reveals that Vela was at the centre of the abuse of funds at the government pensions administrator.

However, the former board chairperson has trashed the allegations arguing that the auditors were biased and only sought to soil his image.

Vela cited the Auditor General Mildred Chiri and BDO Chartered Accountants as respondents in his application.
The respondents have since filed their heads of arguments on the matter insisting that it was improper for Vela to drag the courts into the dispute.

“It is the first respondent (Chiri)’s contention that the applicant have totally misconceived their cause of action of seeking to review an audit report which essentially is a report of factual findings by the second respondent (BDO Chartered Accountants) and is neither a decision nor an administrative action warranting a review by this honourable court,” reads part of the arguments filed by Chiri’s lawyers.

“The consequence of this is that their application is misguided, frivolous and vexatious. This court has inherent jurisdiction to disallow and dismiss proceedings that are frivolous and vexatious,” the lawyers further submitted.
Vela argued that  the auditors were biased and went out of their way to tarnish his image.

He said the auditors ignored board minutes and communication between board members showing that some of the deals now being used for criminal prosecutions were above board.

Chiri said this was not for the courts to entertain.

“A judicial review is basically a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made rather that the correctness or otherwise of conclusions reached. What applicant is seeking this honourable court to do is strike out what he alleges to be falsities in the report. Such a remedy is not known in law and cannot be achieved by way of a review,” she said.

Her response further reads: “The court must protect itself. It must protect respondents from abuse. It must send out a clear message that it will not hesitate in dismissing baseless applications. The level of costs must reflect the court’s displeasure at the abuse of process.”

The 122 page forensic report unearthed massive corruption that prejudiced NSSA millions of dollars.

But Vela argued that some of the issues raised in the report happened before he was appointed as board chairperson. Vela was sacked as board chairperson by then Public Service Minister Petronella Kagonye in March 2018.

He argued that, NSSA had in fact, made significant achievements during his tenure as evidenced by the financial growth in surplus of 638% from $19,5 million in 2015 to $144,2 million in 2017.