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Catch-And-Release: Prisca Mupfumira Acquitted of $90 Million NSSA Fraud Charges

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Priscah Mupfumira and NSSA Chairman Robin Vela
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Harare, Zimbabwe – Former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira has been acquitted of charges alleging she defrauded the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) of US$90 million.

The ruling was delivered by Deputy Chief Magistrate Ngoni Nduna on Saturday.

Mupfumira had faced accusations of improperly influencing NSSA to enter into an agreement with Drawcard, a land development firm, without following the required tender process. However, the magistrate ruled that Mupfumira was not guilty, noting that she did not serve on the NSSA Board and therefore could not be held accountable for the organization’s decisions.

“It is absurd that the State continued with her prosecution when it was clear that she was not part of the decision-making panel at NSSA,” Magistrate Nduna stated. He pointed out that the evidence showed the NSSA Board made its own resolutions regarding the Mzenya Project.

Nduna further explained that without minutes of meetings indicating Mupfumira’s involvement in the engagement of Drawcard, it was unreasonable to hold her responsible. He emphasized that the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) regulations had been superseded by a NSSA Board resolution on June 30, 2017, which governed the identification and engagement of developers for Offtake Housing Projects.

“The only conclusion to be arrived at is that NSSA did not go to tender because they resolved not to do so. Accused was not part of the deliberations where that resolution was arrived at. If PRAZ applied to the projects, it is the legal advisors in NSSA who should be held liable for not properly advising the board on legal issues,” Nduna ruled.

Mupfumira, represented by Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza Legal Practitioners, maintained her innocence throughout the trial. She argued that her prosecution was politically motivated due to her loyalty to President Emmerson Mnangagwa during his tenure as vice president.

The court noted that the legal service department at NSSA failed to properly advise the board, leading to procedural errors. It also dismissed any suggestion of prior dealings between Mupfumira and Drawcard, stating there was no evidence of any undue favors or considerations.

Mupfumira’s co-accused, NSSA director Barnabas Matongera, was discharged at the close of the State’s case. The court ultimately found no evidence linking Mupfumira to the alleged offenses, leading to her acquittal.