Members of Parliament have called for a complete overhaul of the National Social Security Authority Act (NSSA) to enable contributors to the scheme to have a right to know what is happening at the social security authority in terms of their investment policies.
The MPs said NSSA was becoming irrelevant due to its failure to adequately take care of pensioners and for making investment decisions that did not directly benefit contributors to the scheme.
The sentiments against NSSA were expressed in Parliament after the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare chaired by Zanu PF MP for Mazowe South, Margaret Zinyemba, had presented their first report on the operations of NSSA.
Investigations by the committeerevealed that NSSA pensioners were getting paltry pension payouts.
MDC-T Zengeza West MP, Collen Gwiyo said NSSA was almost becoming a national “insecurity scheme” because it was failing to serve its intended purpose.
“My understanding of the idea of having a National Social Security Scheme is to provide a decent pension for the post-retirement period, but unfortunately what is happening is that the scheme is almost becoming a national insecurity scheme,” said Gwiyo. “NSSA is no longer serving its purpose.”
Gwiyo said the investment decisions that had been carried out by NSSA had no direct bearing on retirees or those contributing to the scheme.
“Investment decisions at NSSA can largely be described as poor and misplaced. In terms of investment decisions, what NSSA ought to have done is to invest in government bonds, the legal requirement of 45%, then the 65% of the monies that are paid by contributors ought to have been invested so that they generate an increase on the person who is on retirement,” Gwiyo said.
He said the average amount of $25 that most pensioners received was a disappointment apart from being grossly inhuman.
The committee, in its report, also revealed that different workers’ unions such as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz), and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) felt that there was serious need for NSSA to review its current pension payouts as they were too paltry to sustain people on pension.
MDC-T Kuwadzana MP, Lucia Matibenga said the fact that NSSA ran a scheme similar to other private pension schemes defeated the whole purpose of why it was set up in the first place.
She said a lot of money that pensioners lost during the hyper inflation era should be re-imbursed as compensation by government. Matibenga said NSSA was a rich fund with poor beneficiaries who lived in abject poverty.
“The scheme owns beautiful buildings in the country. There are beautiful offices and good conditions of service for workers in that scheme, while contributors are wallowing in poverty,” she said.
MDC-T Bulawayo East MP, Thabitha Khumalo said there were some people who were benefitting from NSSA while the working class was crying foul.
“The intention of a pension scheme is that when I no longer have teeth I should have a good and better life. Unfortunately, in this country when you have no teeth they say you cannot even chew choumolia vegetables and you are sentenced to death,” said Khumalo.
She said pensioners did not even own houses, while pension funds had built houses all over the country.