Mliswa, Ex-Nssa boss Vela square off

HARARE - As the tiff between former National Social Security Authority (Nssa) board chair Robin Vela and Norton legislator escalates, the former has written to President Emmesron Mnangagwa rebutting the MP’s numerous allegations and accusations against him. Below are allegations (A) and Robin Vela’s responses (R) extracted from his dossier to Mnangagwa;|

A: “On paper, MetBank owes the public more than US$40 million in deposits.  However, the bank does not have the capacity to make the payouts.  Many of these institutions are Parastatals like POTRAZ, Telecel, Universities, Rural Authorities, Zimra, Pension Funds and other unsuspecting government institutions. Most prominent of these institutions is the Nssa. With Vela at its helm, financial assistance to MetBank accelerated at the same rate at which Vela was buying properties all over Harare. Interestingly, these properties included James Makamba’s old Joy TV offices along Josiah Chinamano Avenue in Harare.”

R: During the tenure of the Chairperson, being July 10, 2015 to March 27, 2018, there were no money market deposits placed with MetBank by Nssa. Nssa, as part of its cash balances, held a transactional account with MetBank which amounts could be called at any time. At a peak this has
some US$3,2m of funds in it. This amount was called by Nssa on or around January 26, 2018, and paid in full within 24 hours. Nssa therefore, factually, has no deposits with MetBank. The author has a habit of making allegations with no evidence, as he did when on January 31, 2018,  he accused Nssa of transferring US$40m from CBZ to MetBank. This did not happen as supported by paragraph above. Firstmile Properties is an established entity that has been in the property development business since February 19, 2002 in Harare with numerous developments having been completed. It is false to insinuate that Vela’s property activities only started once he was appointed at Nssa. In South Africa, Firstmile Properties has a significant double digit minority interest in various state tenanted properties, as is public record, in September 2013 a portion of the portfolio of properties in which Firstmile was interested, through Encha Properties, were acquired by Vukile Property Fund for R1,4bn. My annual earnings since 2000, whilst based in the UK and SA averaged US$2,5m per annum. Evidenced by, inter alia, the 2012 annual accounts of SacOil where in that year alone I was paid R21,1m (equivalent to US$3.25m at the time).

A: “(US$62 million) Treasury Bills were meant to guarantee a facility for fertilizers production. Once again, in the absence of any official documentation, Nssa released US$62 million in TBs to MetBank in about August 2017. The instruction to release the funding was again issued by Vela . . . without board approval. After demands from Nssa, MetBank eventually returned US$24 million in January 2017 after serious pressure from Labour and Social Welfare minister . . . Petronela Kagonye. The balance of US$37 million remains outstanding and still needs to be properly accounted for. Suggestion has it that the outstanding balance may be being rolled over in the market to pay off other MetBank creditors.”

R: The US$62 million of TBs were indeed, at a cover ratio of 2:1, meant to enable a facility of US$30 million (exclusive of costs) to be raised to fund fertilizers. This was being done through Sable Chemicals. The structure of this facility was the brainchild of Herbert Hungwe, and there is numerous paperwork around this, including the deliberations between MetBank, Nssa and Sable management. The support of a $30 million Sable facility and the provision of TBs as security, was discussed at various Board Investments Committee (BIC) and there is a huge paper trail of documents. Nssa had received an additional US$180 million of TBs from government as arrear contributions and in March 2017 was looking at ways to sweat this asset which was only going to generate five percent and be a 10-year instrument. Management provided such a structure enabling Nssa to earn an additional return from its stock of treasury bills while also assisting key national programmes such as Command Agriculture. Management released the US$62, 25 million TBs on September 4, 2017, signed by Herbert Hungwe. It is for management to ensure it has the necessary approvals not the chairperson. Management certainly knew about the release of the TBs and were integral to the formulation of thinking around the same. The TBs are not lost, they are part of a structured instrument that was being negotiated. Before my departure, my understanding was that MetBank was simply awaiting the RBZ’s undertaking/ nostro provision to enable the facility to be activated. The proposed structure, once committed, could not just simply be withdrawn. It is management’s responsibility to ensure it has the requisite corporate approvals for any implementation then carried out by them. It follows that management would then be responsible, not the chairperson, should they not have the same but choose to implement anyway. Lastly, minister Kagonye was only appointed in late November 2017 — she would have to have had a predetermined agenda to immediately come into office and start pressuring for return of the MetBank TBs.

A: “Nssa loaned MetBank $20 million in TBs. They have not been paid back to date as MetBank does not have the capacity. Without board approval, Vela unilaterally authorised an extension of the loan to the 30th of June 2018.”

R: The TBs are long dated paper and not cash. The author (Mliswa) seems to believe that there was cash to pay back — that is not the cash, nor was cash disbursed. As mentioned, the BIC of March 2017 sought to enhance the return on its US$200 million TB Securities by allowing custodians to utilise the same for an additional coupon of 1-2 percent payable to the Authority. The availing of TBs was purely commercial and no benevolent act, MetBank have paid Nssa some US$300 000 for their use until June 30, 2018. It must also be recorded that the offer was extended to CBZ and FBC as well, but declined. This is investment income generative from an otherwise dormant asset! BIC approved and Board ratified (30 November 2016) the utilisation of US$20 million of TBs by MetBank. The BIC Investment DashBoard discloses the US$20 million TBs as being outstanding on March 13, 2018 — with HH as responsible member of management stating that the approval for rollover of TBs to June 2018 having been done in December 2017. HH before implementation should ensure his approvals at the time. But as a minimum the effect of the BIC meeting of March 13, 2018 would be to ratify the rollover of the facility. There are no minutes that talk to withdrawal as suggested by the Author. Further the BIC has the standing Authority (since 12 September 2012) for management to implement its decisions prior to board approval.

A: Metro Realty...apparently...the housing development arm of MetBank. Its directors are Bvute and a Belmont Ndebele, also employed by MetBank. The company was paid US$11, 5 million by Nssa upon the authorisation by Vela for the development of stands in Chinhoyi. The value of the disbursement is brought into question as it is suspected to have been made on the back of inflated construction figures.

R: On July 27, 2017, the BIC approved management’s proposal for an offtake of 809 Houses in Chinhoyi and a US$6,145 million payment fully secured by an unconditional and irrevocable performance bond together with a Nssa cession on the land. As of April 30, 2018, 202 out of the 809 units were completed, awaiting final finishes, as well as sewer and water reticulation.

A: US$3 million was paid to Musendekwa & Mtisi Legal Practitioners as “Advisory Fees” for the Telecel transaction.  The people who are knowledgeable about the identity of these advisors are Supa Mandiwanzira, Vela and Ozias Bvute. As public funds were used, there should be transparency as to who these advisors were outside of the officially appointed advisors, CBZ Bank and Mawere and Sibanda Law Firm.

R: The fees would be for the account of Zarnet/ USF as part of the series of transactions involving Zarnet’s acquisition from Vimplecon, the subsequent cession to USF, et al. As Nssa was not liable for costs and was only interested in its return from the Telecel transaction, it was not privy to further detail of what transpired within Zarnet and/or USF.

A: Vela wants to make it look like he was fired from Nssa for nothing. He is the holder of British passport number: 534577449.  He acrimoniously left employment at SacOil in South Africa amid a host of allegations including sexual harassment.

R: Dual nationality is legal in Zimbabwe. Further, the Nssa Act does not state a member must be Zimbabwean. That said, Vela does hold a Zimbabwean passport. It is patently false that he left SacOil as a result of “a host of allegations” — Vela resigned along with four other fellow board directors on May 31, 2013.

A: Vela appointed “own people” and (caused the) departure of (former CBZ Holdings chief executive Never) Nyemudzo. His involvement with the . . . people make it very clear that he was unsuitable to hold the position of chairperson of Nssa. He has put his own people in boards such as CBZ (Mrs. Tsitsi Mutasa), Ariston and RTG to name a few.  He caused the resignation of Nyemudzo as he refused to do a transaction.

R: Any leader, given a mandate, seeks to work with people they know and who they believe have the competence and expertise to deliver. Knowing someone — is never a disqualification for their appointment as the author (Mliswa) suggests it should be. That said, ALL Nssa investee company NED Appointments were interrogated and recommended by the Nssa HR Committee and not by a single individual and then subsequently confirmed by the Nssa board. Nyemudzo resigned from CBZ for reason unrelated to Nssa and following an RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) on-site inspection (and meeting with RBZ governor John Mangudya), long after we had found a mutually respectful way of working together. There was no transaction of mine presented or refused by Nyemudzo as falsely suggested. It is also important to note that TM (Mliswa) has now changed his reason for the Nyemudzo firing from the supposed transfer of US$40 millon from CBZ to MetBank as per his tweet of January 31, 2018 to Nyemudzo not doing a transaction Vela.

A: Noel a foreign investor who has been very active in buying shares in companies where Nssa has significant shareholding. He seems to do some trades based on insider trading and it is suspected that he gets some insider information from Vela (they do appear to have a good relationship).

R: Hayes has been investing in Zimbabwe way before my arrival at Nssa. I only met Hayes once at Nssa as I sought to build bridges on some of his disgruntlement with some of our co-investee companies. In business, having a good relationship with co-investors is key. My relationship has always been professional with Hayes.

A: Whenever the executives have expressed a view that is not in line with the thinking of Vela or (former Nssa general manager) Liz Chitiga, victimisation follows.  The affected executives are Herbert Hungwe (chief investments officer), Kurauone Chihota (chief propertyofficer) and Cynthia Mugwira (group legal advisor and board secretarial services executive). In the case of Mr. Chihota, Chitiga announced that he had resigned and was due to leave Nssa at the end of October 2017.  Vela, Mrs. Daphne Tomana, Chitiga and Emmerson Mungwariri were attempting to push him out of Nssa. Chihota refused to leave and raised some points with regards to his compensation.  Despite his writing numerous letters of enquiry into his situation, he has not received a response.  In as far as Mugwira is concerned, they have begun hounding her in a bid to frustrate her from the post. They advised her that she would be relegated to group legal advisor and the role of the board secretary was to be removed from her role and the recruitment would be undertaken for a new person. Vela was also making sexual advances towards her and the victimisation and sexual harassment may be as a result of her spurning his advances.

R: This is patently false. The said executives were failing and proving to be incompetent. To date none has delivered anything of substance to Nssa, some two years into their appointments. Another executive said to be victimised by me is Chikuni Mutiswa. Interestingly enough his last formal letter (when being withdrawn) to Nssa dated December 30, 2016 was extremely complementary of RV’s “professionalism & bravery” which today he questions. Beatrice Mtetwa has been retained and is dealing with the defamatory claims of sexual harassment by Mugwira — which is a matter that will progress to finality. Interestingly, the author (Mliswa) does not talk about the pressure he put on minister Mupfumira to appoint the mother of his two children, Ms Cynthia Mugwira, as the Nssa group legal and corporate secretarial executive on the basis of gender. It is a fact that Ms Mugwira was not shortlisted as a candidate by the recruitment committee because she was not qualified having only obtained a 3rd class degree in law, following repeated failings in numerous basic key subjects, and not having had any job experience at such a level in any organisation let alone  one of the size or standing of Nssa. Having been pressured to interview Ms Mugwira, she scored very poorly in the psychometric assessments and again the committee decided not to proceed with her appointment.  Having  realised that the mother of two of his children had failed to be shortlisted and appointed  based on merit and through due process, Mliswa abused his position and pressured the then Labour minister to have Cynthia appointed on the basis of gender. It is a fact that a directive was then issued from minister Mupfumira to appoint Ms Mugwira on the basis of gender. As expected, Ms Mugwira’s incompetence then became apparent to management who then looked to move her sideways into another role, which began the tirade of abuse against Vela, minister Mupfumira and the general manager. The fact is the author used his political position to influence the appointment of a patently unqualified candidate.

A: Nssa has been relieved of an “executive Chairperson”.  Vela had become renowned for Sandton bar room meetings, subsequently issuing instructions to officers at Nssa to meet his cronies and get favours done. When he came to Nssa, he brought along his South African domiciled buddies onto boards of Nssa investee companies, namely, Tunde Akerele, appointed to ZBFH board and Brian Fungai Ruwende to Fidelity Life. These are his former Peterhouse Boys friends. They reside in Johannesburg and are known dealing partners. Their role on these boards was to ensure their various private companies would get contracts off these companies, particularly Robvel.

R: The opening sentences are not worthy of the offices the letter was addressed to and so RV will not respond to the same. RV, sought to turn corporate Zimbabwe into an environment with persons who have operated at the highest levels internationally — regardless of what tertiary educational institution they attended. Both Fungai Ruwende and Tunde Akerele are Zimbabweans who have excelled in their professional careers internationally. It should also be noted there are few African, let alone Zimbabweans, that have the professional credentials these two distinguished professional have. To suggest their appointments was for anything other than for professional reasons is disingenuous and defamatory to them. For the record, Robvel is a plant & equipment business which has had no engagement (in any capacity) with Fidelity or ZBFH, both financial institutions and its existence (19 July 2002) predates Vela’s appointment to Nssa.

A: It is shocking that Vela now wants to talk about the events after he has been dismissed from Nssa.  One would think that this was a paying job for him, it would seem that Nssa was his all!! Come to think of it, his office was decorated with Nssa photos and newspaper clippings all to do with him at Nssa.  There were no other clippings of the supposed portfolios that he holds.  If they were so important, one wonders why those clips of Nssa are so important to him. The noise he is now making around Nssa should indicate to the authorities that there is more to this issue than he would have the public believe. So many chairpersons of so many parastatals have been removed before but never have we heard such noise from any of them. His job was supposed to be service to the nation not his personal property!

R: Nssa was merely an opportunity to serve my nation of Zimbabwe which I felt could benefit from my globally acquired skills and networks.

I believe the Nssa performance under my stewardship ably demonstrates my commitment to serve without fear or favour but with a very strong objective of making sure pensioners’ funds are professionally invested for the benefit of the intended beneficiaries and that investee companies are held accountable and deliver for their shareholders, the pensioners.

This culture of investee company accountability did not exist in Nssa and in our market and thus my drive created immense acrimony against Vela from executives who hitherto had not been held accountable and whose abuse of corporate facilities was well known in the market.

A: Vela sponsored the South African wedding of Mupfumira son Tariro using Nssa funds.

R: Vela has established that Mr Tariro Mupfumira actually got married in Zimbabwe and NOT South Africa as stated by the author. Further, location aside, Nssa did NOT fund any part of the same. Author must provide the evidence to support this?

A: Mupfumira son would tell executives that they must accept certain deals that were to be presented to them because he had direct interests. If the executives did not they would be threatened by Mupfumira with losing their jobs.

R: Hearsay — not worthy of a response.

A: Vela must account for the payment of money that he was given by Kudenga who owed Vela money and used the smoke screen of the Tetrad deal in using that money to pay each other their personal debts back Vela.

R: Factually — Vela has never had any business dealing or personal relationship with Kudenga, Kudenga has never owed RV anything and it follows, Kudenga never paid RV anything.

A: Liz and Mupfumira were running Nssa like a mafia threatening executives and workers. Using fear to get things done.

R: Hearsay — not really worthy of a response. Leadership is about achieving results through your team. The Nssa results speak volumes and would not be achieved in an environment as portrayed. Holding management accountable for results is the role of a Board. As Chairperson, RV accepts that RV had a very strong drive to ensure Nssa achieves results. Certainly, this could be threatening to incompetent executives who would be aware that should they continue to fail to deliver results they will be held to account and have to be replaced by competent skills. RV Makes no apology on his own behalf for this.

Comments (2)

So Vela now admits that he was after all the champion in corporate governance.He admits being arm-twisted by Mupfumira to employ someone who did no qualify nor perform well in the interview.My biggest questions now are:Why did you not resign then when you were forced to do an unethical act? How many more incompetent and unexperienced people did you at employ at NSSA? So the allegations of nepotism levelled against you and your management team were so true? I am really embarassed by your behaviour Robin.Honestly, and with all due respect,how can you stoop so low as to wash your dirty linen in public with a politician like Mliswa.A whole CA to stoop so low is unheard of.Remember how we CAs are trained to be desciplined in whatever we do among other ethical considerations?

wezhira wezhara wezhowezhowe - 15 May 2018

The goings on at NSSA are a cause for concern. I will not be surprised if this entity goes bust. For the benefit of pensioners, Old Mutual should take over and manage this very important institution.

Ndiani Ndiani - 17 May 2018

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