Low pensions force many to retire into employment


JOSUM Chizinga is a 70-year-old man, far beyond the normal retirement age, but works for a building materials company in Harare.

Victoria Mtomba

He is a widower with eight children, four boys and four girls.

Chizinga went for early retirement in 2008 from Johnson and Fletcher, but he joined Msasa Timbers after he received his pension as a contract worker though he later left the company.

Chizinga is still working for another timber manufacturing company.
He stays with three of his grandchildren and his son who is employed in the central business district.

“I think next year I will rest in May because I want to go back to Malawi (home country). I am working because I have realised that one always needs money. I own a house in Mabvuku and my children assist me here and there, but I normally buy food with the money I earn,” Chizinga said.

Mudavanhu Munda (not his real name), a 65 year-old teacher at a primary school in Kadoma, said he got a job as a temporary teacher after he retired to fill in a vacant post.

Munda said he worked as a teacher for more than 20 years and has never known any other profession apart from teaching.

“I looked for a job after experiencing cash problems. I own a house here, but I married a second wife and we have two school going children who need fees. My first wife stays at our first house with my three grown up children who are already working. While I stay this side with my second wife and our two children, this makes my life even more difficult as I still have to pay fees even past my retirement age,” he said.

“People who are on salaries are struggling what more the people who are on pension? Basically it’s a question of the economy. So it’s a way of helping them out as former teachers,” a source in the education ministry said, confirming that they engage retired teachers.

Chizinga and Munda are examples of persons of retirement age, but who find that they need to continue working in order to fend for themselves and their dependants.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) president George Nkiwane said the elderly are not going for retirement as they are afraid that the day they go for retirement they become destitutes.

“People who are due for pensions continue to work and it’s a trend that we are seeing. People are suppose to retire at 60, but some will say they still fit and can continue working. While the elderly are holding on to their jobs, the young, who are supposed to be working, are jobless and staying at home, ” Nkiwane said.

He said it’s taxing to continue working past your retirement age as one would not be as strong and productive as they used to be.
“Sometimes these people become liabilities to the companies that they are employed at as they are no longer innovative,” he said.
Despite the fact that the elderly are still at work many youths, especially in this country, are unemployed although official statistics state that the unemployment rate is 11%.

Percy Dzudzu (not a real name) (33) with an Msc in Economics sells sadza to people in the central business district as she has failed to get a job.

“I was employed by a local company, but it closed down in August just after the elections, but I have two children who are going to school. Every day I cook sadza and I sell it at Rado Arts and to other companies. It pains me. I graduated this year, but I just have a certificate to show for my academic success,” she said.
Many graduates from Zimbabwe are employed in other countries in the region and are steering those economies.

According to National Social Security Authority spokesperson Mike Hamilton the authority does not have statistics on people who are employed past their retirement age.

Hamilton said the age at which a person is expected or required to retire may differ according to where the person is employed. A common retirement age for many organisations is 65.

But many people have complained that NSSA pensions are too low with the lowest pensioner getting $40 a month. The bulk of pensioners fall under the low income bracket, hence the need to continue earning meaningful income.

However, other analysts have blamed poor planning as one of the major factors that causes people to work past their retirement age.


  1. Low pensions are a result of poor management of the economy, and not poor planning by pensioners. Please don’t insult pensioners who spent the rest of their working life building the country’s economy and while some people were turning their retirement savings into mature.

  2. Mari yacho ishoma chaizvo hapana zvainomboita muhupenyu. Zvinonddishamisa ndezvekuti munhu wese onongoiswa paminimum pay chero wakapedza makore akawanda uri middle manager. Hapana musiyano here? Please help, nokuti l suspect someone is getting richer whilst we are suffering. Retired pensioner.

  3. It’s a shame. But Munda haana nyaya akanozvitsvagira ega expense I mean seriously school-going children in your mid-sixties ne mumwe mukadzi waiida yei extra expense iyoyo

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