Ex-NBS boss faces $80m fraud charges

Contracts for the construction of an $80 million National Building Society (NBS) housing project were allegedly fraudulently awarded to land developers without the knowledge of the responsible authorities, a court heard yesterday.

National Building Society

This was revealed before Harare magistrate Victoria Mashamba when former NBS strategic executive assistant to the general manager Tirivavi James Chiuta appeared in court over criminal abuse of office charges.

He was released on $100 bail and ordered to surrender his passport, continue residing at his current address and report twice at the Commercial Crimes Unit until the case is finalised.

Chiuta was represented by Lucky Mawuwa.

NBS, a unit of the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) with the mandate to deliver low- cost housing units country wide, was represented by its managing director, Lameck Danga.

Prosecutor Linda Gadzikwa alleged that sometime in September 2016, Nssa and NBS convened a Strategic Planning Workshop whose resolutions included the mandate given to the bank to deliver 10 000 low-cost housing units countrywide by December 2017.

Nssa was to provide funding with a view to invest employee pensions as well as empowering lowly remunerated citizens to own houses.

In pursuant to the resolution, NBS through its head of projects, Silas Njodzi Mukono conducted road shows countrywide to identify potential partners and 14 were identified.

The court heard that further due diligence by NBS shortlisted projects to be carried out in Victoria Range, Masvingo, Denver Township, Bulawayo, Mkoba Gwere, Dulibadzimu Phase 2, Beitbridge, Emgwanwini Phase 4 in Bulawayo at the cost of $80 991 200.

It is alleged that Chiuta connived with Elizabeth Chitiga who is still at large and hand-picked their own projects with an estimated cost of $78 827 500 without authority from the Procurement Authority of Zimbabwe (Praz).

The duo then allegedly directed NBS to implement the five projects (Harare Dzivaresekwa, Mutare Chikanga Extension, Gweru Shopshire, Zvishavane Lot 834 and 835 and Marondera Elmswood) through an email dated August 24, 2017.

It was alleged that the five projects failed to pass the verification process because of land ownership disputes.

N-Frays (Pvt) Ltd and Globeny Construction (Private) Limited land developers who had been engaged also had land ownership disputes and had to use NBS funds ($424 426 and $1,5 million) to settle the issues.

The two contractors have to date failed to fulfil their contractual obligation and no houses have been delivered to NBS.

It was further alleged that Chiuta and his accomplices gave land developers contracts without the knowledge of the land owners and exposed public funds to abuse.

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