By Tinashe Kairiza
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is investigating the alleged misappropriation and mismanagement of funds by beverages manufacturer Delta Corporation from a pension fund that was set up to benefit retirees, the businessdigest can reveal.
Following a de-mutualisation process in 2001, Delta established the pension fund from shares allotted by Old Mutual.
The protracted dispute over the pension fund, which is now at the centre of the Zacc probe, is one of the few cases around corporate governance that the anti-graft body is investigating.
In 2014, Delta workers’ representatives told a parliamentary portfolio committee that the giant brewer had diverted proceeds from the de-mutualisation process to a trust fund.
However, Delta insisted that the de-mutualisation funds did not accrue to individual members of the pension fund.
President of the Brewing and Distilling Workers’ Union and former Delta Corporation workers’ committee leader John Shumba said he was summoned by Zacc, which sought to understand the concerns of the aggrieved pensioners and how the contentious pension fund was being administered, more than a decade after it was established.
“I was called by Zacc commissioners to interrogate me about the matter. They wanted to understand if the fund is being run professionally and what happened to proceeds from the fund. I am also supposed to meet Zacc today (Thursday),” Shumba said. “Yes, it is an issue. We are complaining about the management of the fund. This happened in 1999, workers were supposed to get money in 2002,” he said, imploring Zacc to “act accordingly and unearth this corruption”.
Sources close to the developments estimate the current savings of the controversial pension fund to have accumulated to US$60 million.
The government’s current fight against corruption, Shumba said, should also extend to private firms while safeguarding the interests of workers.
Efforts to get a comment from Zacc for questions e-mailed last week were fruitless.
Last year, the aggrieved former workers wrote to Delta’s human resources executive demanding disbursement of proceeds from the pension fund which is now shrouded in controversy. But Delta remained defiant, advising the disgruntled pensioners to approach the courts for recourse.
In correspondence addressed to the affected ex-workers in July last year, the beverages maker stated that it did not “owe anyone any de-mutualisation proceeds”.
“First, we wish to make it categorically clear that Delta does not owe anyone any de-mutualisation proceeds,” a Delta human resources executive for the lagers beer business, Kennedy Munda, wrote in a letter dated July 4 2017.
“The claim that Delta has de-mutualisation funds is nothing but a figment of some people’s wild imagination.
“Our advice to you (former employees) if you remain unsatisfied with this explanation is to approach Old Mutual or the regulator of pensions. The business looks forward to a day when the courts can bring finality to this matter.”
Contacted for comment, Delta company secretary Alex Makamure said Delta has not been quizzed by Zacc.
“No contact from Zacc or pensioners. We have no further comment,” Makamure said in a text message.
Over the past decade, the beer maker, then owned by SAB-Miller Plc, grew exponentially, investing over US$43 million to acquire new bottling lines and in the process, asserting its status as the country’s leading beverages manufacturer.
Delta is now a subsidiary of Anheusur-Busch InBev SA/NV, the world’s largest brewer, who snapped up a key stake previously held by SAB-Miller Plc.