THE National Social Security Authority (Nssa) risks losing more than US$7 million of public funds after the High Court cleared a Harare pair wrongfully convicted of misrepresentation after challenging the authority’s purchase of disputed land in a deal which also involved top intelligence operative, Kizito Gweshe and Portuguese businessman Roger De Sa.
The ruling effectively means the two, Wilford Nyambo and his wife Auxilia, can now approach the courts to have the purchase reversed.
Nssa paid US$7,4 million in 2012 for 650 hectares of land near Regina Mundi High School in Gweru after receiving an offer from Gweshe, who is deputy director of counter-intelligence in the President’s Office, despite written warning from Nyambo stating that the sale could not go ahead because he was part-owner of the land, along with De Sa.
Gweshe, who acted on behalf of De Sa, subsequently orchestrated the arrest of Nyambo and Auxilia for allegedly misrepresenting to Nssa that they were part owners of Christmas Gift (Pvt) Ltd (the company which owned the land) and as such no deal over the land could be reached without their consent.
They were each sentenced to five years imprisonment by the Gweru Magistrate Court in 2013, but appealed to the High Court.
The Zimbabwe Independent has since established that Gweshe was handsomely rewarded by De Sa for his part with a US$300 000 pay-out, which came in two tranches of US$100 000 and US$200 000 on March 23 and 25 in 2013 respectively. These amounts were paid out of De Sa’s lawyers Hussein, Ranchhod and Company’s Stanbic Bank account (Nelson Mandela, Harare Branch).
But in a development which is haunting Nssa, High Court justices David Mangota and Owen Tagu last week threw out the case against the Nyambos leaving them free to pursue legal recourse to have the deal reversed.
“In the circumstances the court erred by concluding that the first appellant had no right in the land in question. There was therefore no misrepresentation committed by the appellants.
“The conviction was improper. The conviction is quashed and sentence is set aside. The appellants are found not guilty and are acquitted,” ruled the High Court in reversing the Gweru ruling.
Beatrice Mtetwa, who represented the Nyambos, suggested that action will be taken against De Sa and Gweshe, which could also see Nssa losing out on the taxpayers’ money it invested.
“It means the other shareholders (the Nyambos) if they so wish, can have the agreement set aside on the basis that it was fraudulently agreed to by De Sa,” Mtetwa told this paper on Wednesday.
“Nssa will be in a tight spot because it released all the money to De Sa knowing fully well that there was a dispute.”
Mtetwa also laid into the Prosecutor-General’s office for failing to arrest De Sa over the issue, saying they had since reported him to the police.
“He (Prosecutor-General) is still failing to arrest De Sa yet he was too happy to arrest the Nyambos at the instigation of De Sa.
“We have made a report to the police and he is stalling on De Sa because he is politically connected and he is using those connections to avoid arrest,” she said.
Nssa has a well-documented history of poor investment decisions which have cost contributors millions of dollars, spanning various sectors including deposits in non-performing indigenous banks, non-performing listed companies and loss-making properties.