By Everson Mushava
Former Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira’s corruption has taken a new twist following revelations that she had government authority to buy cars using National Social Security Authority (NSSA) money.
Mupfumira was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) in August on charges of corruption and criminal abuse of office US$95 million.
She was only freed two weeks ago on $5 000 bail after spending two months in remand prison.
One of the charges was that sometime in 2014, Mupfumira unlawfully instructed a Labour ministry top official secure a loan advance of US$90 000 from NSSA for the purchase of a ministerial vehicle.
According to ZACC, Mupfumira knew that NSSA had no provision to issue such loans. Documents, however, show that the former Zanu PF heavy weight obtained Cabinet authority for the purchase and that the loan advanced to the ministry was repaid.
Ray Ndhlukula, the former deputy chief secretary to the president in a letter dated July 13, 2015, advised the Labour ministry to “proceed as requested … on the understanding that NSSA will be reimbursed of the funds they avail to you once Treasury has allocated the required funding.”
“Proceed as requested and purchase an E 300 Mercedes Benz vehicle. This is on the understanding that NSSA will be reimbursed of the funds they avail to you once Treasury allocated the required funding,” Ndhlukula wrote to Ngoni Masoka, the Labour ministry secretary.
In another letter to the NSSA general manager on June 26, Masoka wrote: “Honourable Mupfumira was appointed as the new Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in December 2014.
“Among the issues to do with her conditions of service is the provision of a Mercedes Banz for her official duties.
“Requests have been made to Ministry of Finance and CMED for the purchase of this vehicle but due t financial constraints Treasury has indicated that funding of the said vehicle will be made available when cash inflows improved.
“In order for this vehicle to be purchased for the minister, you are kindly requested for the release of an amount of US90 000 as an advance payment from NSSA.
“Repayments of this advance will be made as soon as the funding is made available by Treasury.”
And on July 1, 2015, then NSSA GM James Matiza wrote to Masoka promising to put funds together for the vehicle.
“We take note of your requests and we are in the process of putting the funds together. We are working towards paying the full $90 000 on Wednesday, July 8, 2015,” reads the letter.
“In the meantime, could you furnish us with the bank details? We would want to disburse the money through your ministry.”
It also emerged that Mupfumira was appointed in December 2014 and the car was bought in 2015, but ZACC papers claimed the former minister swindled NSSA in 2014.
The payment for the car was only made on July 8, 2015.