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HCZ says NSSA Audit Report is flawed

#NssaGate

By Correspondent

Housing Corporation Zimbabwe (HCZ) which has been implicated in alleged corrupt practices in the recently tabled National Social Security Authority (NSSA) Forensic Audit Report says the document is not only flawed but has untruths.

According to the report, HCZ got favourable treatment after it was introduced to NSSA by the board chairperson Mr Vela who went on to put pressure on NSSA officials to fast track the awarding of the contract.

“The company was awarded a contract of US$304 million without going to tender when it was a week old (from date of incorporation),” said the NSSA Audit Report.

However, in statement HCZ said the forensic report was conducted in an incompetent manner as it left out critical information that would have helped with accurate truths.

The company said it is going to seek legal relief from the untrue statement in the report as well as provide the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission with a dossier on how things actually happened.

Below is the statement from HCZ in full:

The Housing Corporation Zimbabwe (HCZ) has noted the release of the Final Report on the Forensic Investigation into the Affairs of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) conducted by BDO Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants (BDO). The report contains several falsehoods as regards to HCZ.

These untruths are attributable to the incompetent manner in which BDO conducted its forensic investigation and in arriving at its conclusions. The absence of an in-depth probe includes ignoring critical information that would have assisted the investigation with accurate facts.

Therefore, in the interest of transparency, the management of HCZ is considering, inter alia, taking the following actions;

  • Instituting legal proceedings to seek relief against areas of the report that are not truthful and are harmful to the reputation of HCZ and its management.
  • Providing the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) with a dossier detailing the process leading up to the signing of the housing off-take agreement between NSSA and HCZ.
  • Submitting grievance statements to the relevant regulatory and oversight bodies within the Chartered Accounting and Audit profession on the conduct of BDO during the investigation.

 

In rejecting the untested claims of impropriety in securing the NSSA off-take agreement, HCZ would like to clarify the following;

  • All the appropriate governance protocols were followed ahead of signing the off-take agreement as approved by the investment committee and the full board of NSSA.
  • At best BDO, failed to comprehend, the NSSA procurement policy provisions that clearly differentiate between off-take agreements, which are investment decisions taken differently from the procurement of services in the ordinary course of organisational operations.
  • Contrary to the assertion that no investment appraisal was performed, an extensive investment memorandum was submitted as part of the proposal to NSSA which informed the negotiations and subsequent due diligence processes that were undertaken.
  • NSSA did not suffer any price prejudice as claimed in the report. In this regard, NSSA have in their possession an independent expert assessment from ABACUS Construction Cost Consultants (Pty) Ltd, which affirmed the appropriateness of the price charged per unit. BDO failed to appreciate the variance in specifications and project scope that totalled the costs per unit when comparing against other housing projects.
  • Due to the restrictive indigenous laws that were applicable at the time, as evidenced by the NSSA Board resolutions, Housing African Corporation (HAC) as a Mauritian entity was required to incorporate a local entity, in this regard, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) through which the project would be managed and delivered.
  • Thus, HCZ was set up as an SPV with licensed franchise rights obtained from HAC, as an owner of the intellectual property of systems and methodology for the construction of large-scale housing projects and having extensive experience in delivering housing developments across the globe.
  • The Caledonia Housing Project was compromised – not because of any action or inaction by HCZ, not because alleged procurement processes were not followed – but because of NSSA’s own failure and inability to manage the project. It was NSSA’s repeated material breaches of the off-take agreement which entitled HCZ, to legally terminate the agreement and claim damages. In arbitration, these repudiatory breaches by NSSA justified an award to HCZ as an entitlement to damages suffered.
  • 57 Units had been completed prior to the contract termination, while 53 were at varying levels of completion.

The management of HCZ supports the government’s efforts in fighting corruption. However, anti-corruption measures must not be used as a tool to malign individuals and their business operations. The HCZ is a customer-focused company that is driven by its passion and the commitment to integrity and responsibility in the service of communities.-Ends

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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