THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts this week quizzed National Social Security Authority (Nssa) board chairman Edwin Manikai over the powers that allow h
im to deal in shares on behalf of the authority without board approval.
Pricilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga chairs the committee.
Manikai does not need board approval to acquire or dispose of the authority’s shares worth a maximum of $200 million as he deems necessary – a situation which the committee said was irregular.
According to Nssa’s resolution of the board of directors, the board chair-man’s limit of authority toacquire and dispose shares was in November last year raised from above $50 million to above $200 million.
The Nssa board chairman can buy or dispose shares without board approval and the public accounts committee said the move leaves room to manipulation where the chairman can only make a report after transactions.
The committee felt that Manikai had to much powers and was now acting as the defacto executive of the authority. The committee complained that this was not in line with prudent corporate governance.
“He has decision making powers for share dealings above 10% and up to 20% without board endorsement. This is tantamount to abuse and usurping the general manager’s powers,” the committee said.
Nssa has in the past been blasted for poor corporate governance and lack of public accountability at man-agement levels. It has also been delaying the release of externally audited accounts andannual report as required by the law.
Nssa has had no sub-stantive general manager for four years and recently re-advertised for the post.
Manikai told the committee that his board had recommended the top two applicants to the Public Service Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mangwana.
He said Mangwana has instead directed the board to go through another process of seeking a general manager.
Manikai said there were no reasons given for the new development.
The committee also grilled the chairman over issues of operating on an unauthorised capital and expenditure budget for the past three years.
Currently Nssa is said to receive $13 billion monthly and pays out $6 billion in the same period. The monetary value of the fund stands at $506 billion.
It also queried why some of Nssa’s properties were operating below the rate of return and why it was paying out meager allowances to beneficiaries, among other issues.
Although Manikai appeared together withother Nssa officials as well as the permanent secretary in the labour ministry, Lancaster Mu-seka, most of the questions were directed at him. “For each capital ex-penditure, Nssa is supposed to seek approval from the Ministry of Finance, Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
“Manikai claimed that they had been doing so, but he said the Ministry of Finance kept losing the papers and therefore had not given them approval. However, Nssa proceeded without the Ministry’s approval which is in contravention of treasury regulations.”Manikai, in response, said their parent ministry had advised them to treat the budgets as approved due to the finance ministry’s failure to respond in time.
Manikai acknowledged violating provisions of the Nssa Act, blaming it on lack of proper information technology, which he said would be put in place next year.Manikai lambasted the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions for attempting to manipulate his board for political gains, adding at one time there were moves to dilute Nssa’s 47% equity in Financial Holdings (Finhold).