By Mary Taruvinga
NATIONAL Social Security Authority (NSSA) head of investments Kurauone Chihota Wednesday exonerated former minister Prisca Mupfumira in court saying she was never involved in the process that led to the deal between NSSA and Drawcard Enterprises.
Mupfumira is facing criminal abuse of office charges and is jointly charged with NSSA’s former director of contributions Barnabas Matongera.
Prosecutors allege the two initiated the deal without the NSSA board’s approval and did not follow tender procedures.
During the trial before Harare Magistrate Ngoni Nduna, Chihota said Mupfumira was not the accounting officer when the deal was signed.
He also said there was no evidence signalling her involvement in formulating the agreement.
During cross examination with Mupfumira’s lawyer, Admire Rubaya, Chihota also exonerated Matongera stating he was not the accounting officer during the time they allegedly committed the offence and as a result the two accused did not play a role.
Chihota said there was no evidence that proved Mupfumira gave instructions for the signing of the agreement within 48 hours.
The court further heard there were no letters or any communique written by Mupfumira giving instructions for signing of the agreement.
Chihota also said he raised queries with the NSSA’s then general manager, Elizabeth Chitiga, and the then board chairperson over the pricing of the stands.
“In regard to that, I recall querying the price per square metre and I took it to the general manager and chairperson saying the proposed amount was in excess of our viability,” he said.
Asked why he failed to raise issues on irregularities on tender and process, Chihota said he was not the one who authored the agreement.
“I was unable to because I was not in control at the conclusion of the agreement. I was physically out of the country,” he said adding that he did not raise allegations against the former minister.
“Mrs. Elizabeth Chitiga was the general manager and the accounting officer. To my knowledge, I do not know whether he (Matongera) participated in the signing of the agreement,” he said.
Asked whether off-take projects were required to go through tender procedures or not, Chihota said NSSA was free to enter such agreements as part of its investing activities.
The trial is expected to continue on November 9 and 10 on the continuous roll.
Whisper Mabhaudi and Loveit Masuku are prosecuting.