NSSA ignored warning

NSSA ignored warning
The National Social Security Authority

The National Social Security Authority

A NATIONAL Social Security Authority (NSSA) executive who successfully sued the pay as you go pension fund for $630 000 for unfair dismissal had, in fact, warned the Robin Vela-led board of directors that it was playing with fire, fresh documents pertaining to the dispute emerged this week.
In a shock judgment, the High Court last month ordered the sale of NSSA assets worth $628 000 to pay off former chief strategic assets officer, Chikuni Mutiswa, who locked horns with the authority, which manages public assets worth over $1 billion.
Mutiswa could be one of the country’s luckiest citizens as he had served NSSA for only six months when the decision to axe him was made at the end of last year.
NSSA reached the conclusion to server ties with Mutiswa after he refused a planned extension of his probation period from three months to six months, according to court papers seen by The Financial Gazette.
At the time of his dismissal, he had already signed a contract with NSSA, the papers said, noting that he then sought legal advice from some of the country’s best solicitors, who told him to take the unprecedented move of facing off one of Zimbabwe’s richest institutions.
New details indicated that in January, Mutiswa had written to Vela and his board wishing them good luck and a “prosperous” 2017.
As a parting shot, the papers show, Mutiswa had warned that manipulating the media about his exit would not work. In fact, Mutiswa had warned that NSSA was making “a strategic miscalculation” which would backfire. “There is a mistaken idea that preening in the press will pre-empt and somehow scrub out these facts and make the conclusion of the matter, to use a term favoured by the chairman, a fait accompli,” Mutiswa’s January 18, 2017 confidential letter reads.
“That is naive; a strategic miscalculation which will in no way serve the interests of the institution. In fact, it can turn out to be very expensive in terms of both financial cost and reputations given that, violations of multiple key provisions of the Labour Act and contract itself aside, the underlying reasons for my departure have absolutely nothing to do what has been claimed. I am compelled to take the unusual step of writing directly to the NSSA board because it has come to my attention that an impression has been created around my being pushed out of NSSA for reasons other than those publicised. Furthermore, the chairman’s and (general manager)’s decision to publish contractual details which are strictly private and confidential sought to present a position on my departure that is at best a calculated misrepresentation. At worst, it is deliberately and demonstrably false. There can be no contractual clause which violates the bare minimum stipulated in the said Act. Any board members who have an elementary understanding of law and experience in human resources will be well aware of this,” he said.
Mutiswa warned that NSSA was “at a delicate stage in its transformation”.
He said the authority was ill prepared to “afford mushrooming public scandals that a failure to resolve this matter professionally and discretely will necessarily lead to”.
“As indicated in my last letter of 10 January, 2017, my desire is to settle this matter quickly and amicably. NSSA is a great institution, a fantastic collection of hardworking individuals who should be supported and assisted to focus on the pursuit of its noble goals. They deserve better than to spend time reading endless stories of their leadership’s missteps in the national papers,” the letter added.
Two weeks ago, the Business Weekly reported that NSSA was making frantic efforts to re-employ Mutiswa, as part of measures to avoid paying the $630 000. Trade unions are breathing fire over how NSSA has been managing its funds.
Paying Mutiswa the $630 000 could raise more eyebrows within NSSA’s many stakeholders.
newsdesk@fingaz.co.zw

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