Former head of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), Arthur Manase is facing allegations of acquiring six luxury cars for himself over a two-year period using funds from the statutory pension fund.
In addition to these allegations, he is charged with violating a cabinet-approved circular related to condition-of-service vehicles dated March 20, 2018, by implementing a policy that allowed for the unauthorized acquisition of such vehicles in addition to auto loans.
These accusations have emerged at a time when Manase has requested that NSSA sell him a third expensive vehicle, a Land Rover Defender, in addition to the Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG and the Mitsubishi Triton double cab he already possessed prior to his recent resignation.
The combined value of Manase’s three vehicles, which includes a Mercedes-Benz valued at US$178,000, a Land Rover Defender at US$175,000, and a Triton at US$63,000, totals US$416,000.
Manase, who was appointed in January 2021, left his position on August 1, more than a year after being placed on leave to assist in investigations related to various anomalies, instances of mismanagement, and allegations of corruption.
Just days before resigning, Manase was placed on paid leave without pay and benefits on July 28, facing over 30 allegations of wrongdoing, malpractice, and poor administration.
NSSA had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him, with some allegations involving vehicles.
According to documents obtained by ZiMetro News, Manase is accused of implementing an unlawful condition-of-service motor vehicle framework and the unauthorized acquisition of six vehicles. This action was deemed to have violated the March 20, 2018 cabinet-approved circular on condition-of-service vehicles for independent commissions, state enterprises, and parastatals.
The documents further outline that Manase purchased six cars for personal use over a two-year period using the authority’s resources, contrary to the circular on condition-of-service vehicles.
In one instance, Manase acquired a Land Cruiser Discovery vehicle in December 2022 as his condition-of-service vehicle while his employment contract did not specify such a vehicle for the acting position. Furthermore, he purchased a Mercedes-Benz through a car loan in June 2022 while still having an outstanding car loan from June 2021.
Manase’s attempt to purchase a Land Cruiser 300 Series using OK Zimbabwe shares was also flagged as a violation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act.
These actions were deemed to breach procurement norms, disregard legal directions on the framework for condition-of-service cars, and exploit the authority’s financial resources to the detriment of pensioners.
Manase has expressed a desire to acquire the Land Rover Defender, adding to his Triton double cab purchased in August 2021 and the Mercedes-Benz obtained in March 2022 as a condition-of-service vehicle.
The sale of vehicles at NSSA is governed by its condition-of-service vehicle policy, along with guidance from the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet’s circular, in accordance with Corporate Governance Unit Circular SEP/37/23 from 2023.
These policies consider various factors, including the employee’s role, age, usage, condition of the vehicle, and whether it is new or used. The length of service and any promotions or changes in employment status are also taken into account.
The NSSA assistant accountant, Erasmus Mavondo, was previously arrested in connection with the vehicle controversy. Mavondo has been accused of providing Manase with a personal loan to purchase a car at an undervalued exchange rate. Manase has claimed that Mavondo facilitated the purchase of the Mercedes-Benz for ZW$25,351,418.60 instead of ZW$60,251,593.80 or US$178,000.
Mavondo is further alleged to have deprived NSSA of ZW$34,900,175 by converting US$178,000 at a rate of US$1:ZW$142 on March 31, 2022, rather than US$1:ZW$138 on June 21, 2022.