Ex-NSSA boss Vela goes to ConCourt

Source: Ex-NSSA boss Vela goes to ConCourt | Herald (Crime)

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
FORMER National Social Security Authority chairman Mr Robin Vela is now seeking the intervention of the Constitutional Court to quash the report from BDO Chartered Accountants that fingered him in underhand deals.

The move follows the Supreme Court ruling allowing an appeal by BDO Chartered Accountants against a 2020 High Court judgement that quashed its audit report against Mr Vela, with Mr Vela seeing this latest ruling as a violation of rights.

“It seems clear to me that the Supreme Court was determined, for whatever reason, to rule in favour of BDO and Auditor-General,” he said.

“They just had to! No surprises for outsiders like me but this is not just about me, and so I will persevere on to the apex court.

“The appeal was upheld on the basis that BDO is not an administrative authority, did not exercise public power and therefore its report could not be reviewed.

“This despite BDO having been appointed by the Auditor General under provisions of the Constitution enabling the Auditor General to subcontract its public power and administrative function.”

Mr Vela also claimed that the Supreme Court analysis deliberately avoided dealing with the High Court analysis of the Constitution and the Administrative Justice Act.

The Supreme Court, he said, ignored that the Audit Office Act allowed the delegation of powers given in the Constitution to the Auditor General and she could thus appoint a firm of chartered accountants, as she had done with BDO, to do a forensic investigation.

So Mr Vela questioned the Supreme Court’s conclusion that what BDO did was not the exercise of administrative power.

He also contended that the findings of incompetence, malice and incoherence by the High Court had not been interfered with so still stood.

The Constitutional Court needed to make a definitive pronouncement on delegation of Constitutional powers by the Auditor General and whether BDO acted under the Auditor General’s authority and then whether the investigation constituted reviewable action.

A three-judge panel of Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi and Justice George Chiweshe last week on Friday allowed BDO’s appeal on the basis that the accounting firm was not an administrative authority and therefore its report cannot be revised.

The High Court had dismissed BDO report on NSSA as biased, incompetent and riddled with inaccuracies in the case in which Mr Vela had contested the audit report on the basis that in carrying out the audit, the accounting firm was exercising public power.

High Court judge, Justice Webster Chinamora then ruled that the forensic investigation and the audit report produced by NSSA were reviewable.

He went on to review the conduct of BDO when producing the forensic audit report and concluded that the process leading up to the production of the audit report was fraught with bias because there was unequal treatment of Mr Vela and two ministers allegedly involved in corrupt activities.

Further, Justice Chinamora ruled that the failure to mention the impugned ministers’ names in the forensic report amounted to gross incompetence.

The Supreme Court in its judgment found that BDO’s conduct and processes in that regard were not subject to judicial review and upheld the appeal with costs of suit.

However, the court did not touch on the substantive issues such as BDO’s alleged incompetence, malice and incoherence as ruled by the High Court.

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