Vela steps down from NSSA investees’

Source: Vela steps down from NSSA investees’ | The Financial Gazette July 11, 2017

THE National Social Security Authority of Zimbabwe (NSSA) chairman, Robin Vela has stepped down from board of directors of all companies in which the institutional investor has a shareholding.

NSSA said the decision to have Vela step down from the boards of companies including FBC Holdings Limited and First Mutual Holdings was taken to remove the perception that some of the pension funder’s investee companies were not treated fairly and equitably.

NSSA has a 51, 3 percent stake in First Mutual and a 35 percent shareholding in FBC Holdings. Ironically Vela who was appointed NSSA chairman in 2015 had been appointed to the FBC Board last month.

His stepping down is in-line with his stance of being a vocal advocate for good corporate governance and protection of the rights of all shareholders, especially minorities that have tended to be somewhat ignored in the past.

“In seeking to continue to walk the talk and ensure that all NSSA’s investee companies are treated equally, Robin Vela (as Chairman of NSSA) will voluntarily step down from the board of directors of all companies in which NSSA has an interest, including FBC Holdings Limited, First Mutual Holdings Limited, First Mutual Wealth Limited and FBC Reinsurance Limited,” said NSSA in its second quarter review this week.

To ensure a smooth hand over, due notice and a clear responsibility cut-off date, Vela’s resignations will be effective on December 31 2017.

Vela, has been vocal about the institutions’ investments in listed companies, becoming unpopular with many executives especially of CBZ Holdings and ZB Financial Holdings.

In January, NSSA besieged CBZ Holdings executives demanding to know their remuneration packages and more financial disclosures against the backdrop of paltry dividends to its shareholders. NSSA has a 10,7 percent stake in CBZ Holdings.

In May NSSA blocked banker Nicholas Vingirai’s return to the ZB Financial Holdings board after shareholders voted against his re-election following a charged confrontation with institutional investor at an annual general meeting.

NSSA is ZB’s largest shareholder with a 37,79 percent stake, with Vingirai’s Transnational Holdings Limited (THL) being the second biggest, with 19,79 percent.

NSSA has over US$1,3 billion worth of assets under management.

Vela is on record saying he inherited an institution that was beset with weak internal controls and poor management.

“We do not deny that mistakes were made in the past. We continue to look for ways to unlock value from some of these historical investments while also ensuring that investment decisions going forward are informed by the liabilities profile of the authority and the need to improve pension pay-outs,” said Vela.

Going forward Vela said one of the key success factors in any organisation was management, and for NSSA the routine challenges of managing complex investments and social security were compounded by the current economic challenges, the ever growing impoverished communities based in sometimes very remote areas.