Pensioners struggle for a living


MARGARET Masiya (75) is a pensioner and widow from Zengeza looking after four grandchildren whose parents died of Aids-related illnesses. Three of them are in school.


Kanyemba, whose husband was a police officer, receives $30 monthly pension from the National Social Security Agency (NSSA) and $100 from the government.

Somehow, the money is expected to cover her grandchildren’s school fees, medical bills and food requirements.

“There are many of us who are looking after Aids orphans and I really feel that this is a national responsibility for which we should at least be appreciated by government,” she says.

Kanyemba says she no longer has the physical strength to meet the demands of looking after herself and her grandchildren.

She has now resorted to vending vegetables at a small market in her neighbourhood to raise additional funds.

“I have had to re-adjust my lifestyle to suit my current earnings, which are not much,” she said. “But being a pensioner now means hardships. So I have to make do with what I have.”

Many of Zimbabwe’s elderly are living in poverty as the country has no effective social support system. Those who spent their productive years contributing to the country’s development have not been spared as they lost all their savings when the country’s financial regime migrated from the worthless Zimbabwe dollar to the US dollar.

In the past, such people could live out the remainder of their lives in relative comfort on their pension, but the economic turmoil of the last decade has eroded whatever contributions they made to their pension schemes.

NSSA started paying pensioners in foreign currency in April 2009. Following actuarial evaluations, the agency currently pays a minimum pension of $25 (for pensioners’ already on government payroll before 1 April 2009), according to general manager James Matiza.

Matiza is on record saying people need to understand that NSSA does not offer social assistance, but its schemes “are employment-based”.

He says pension payouts are simply based on what the person would have contributed while they were still employed but they are working towards increasing it.

“If you pay $6, it has a bearing on what you will be paid when you retire. Our rate of contribution is very low, but it is under review at the moment,” he said. “We have put a paper to the authorities to revise this because we want to pay better pensions.”

Kanyemba’s story mirrors that of Moses Mucheche (77) of St Mary’s Township.

He regards himself as a victim of time and circumstances because at a time when he should be enjoying the comfort and ease of his post-working years, his life is now a sorry tale of abject hardship and penury.

The measly monthly $50 pension payout he gets from NSSA seems to mock him.

“It’s like mockery of my working life,” he says. “It’s too little to sustain my life, but that is all I have. It’s a life of struggle.”

His story is a reflection of the struggle that many Zimbabwean pensioners, especially those at the low payout end of the scale that runs from a paltry $40 to as much as $1 447 often find themselves in.

“Now, I sell cigarettes, sweets and whatever would be in season to earn a living,” he says.

According to Edwin Kaseke of the School of Social Work at the University of Zimbabwe, “in most African countries occupational pensions are the major source of social protection at old age.”

He also notes in a paper titled The Challenges of Extending Social Security to the Poor: An African Perspective that the HIV and Aids pandemic has become a significant factor in social security.

“It is also noted that the Aids pandemic has added a new dimension to the problem of sustainability of social security schemes. Those most affected by HIV and Aids are in the most economically active age groups,” he says.


  1. It is very painful to note that one lost all those premiums and entitlements made to insurance companies just like that after contributing for years.

    We are still waiting to see how the majority of the people whose insurance polices and pensions
    became worthless are going to be compensated. We know this was due to some foolish moves on some certain individuals who were playing casino economics who messed up the whole economy for everyone. Now those same people are living comfortable lives without any qualms or conscience on the harm they caused a lot of people. Shame one them!

    • my friend’s step-aunt makes $88 /hr on the computer . She has been without work for seven months but last month her income was $16576 just working on the computer for a few hours. read review………………………..WWW.JOBS84.COM

  2. in chitungwz there is more trouble 4 these pple since most of thm used their benefits 2 built houses which r 2 be demolished by th gvnt

  3. The stigma of AIDS, now suddenly everybody orphaned is because parents died of aids, what about who died of cholera, cancer, and accidents,you make HIV a stigma, let us talk about orphans without describing them with their parents, they lost their parents full stop.

  4. Many thanks Phillip for highlighting the plight of these pensioners who must look after orphans..NSSA swore on everything holy a few weeks ago that the minimum that they were paying is 60 dollars (this was at some parliamentary hearing or something) now in your report it is given as 25 dollars..what is going on here? Having said this what do the cool dudes at IPEC have to say about why it is that NSSA, a government department which was collecting maximum 3% from the worker pays this much when they pay a one-off 100 dollars for someone who was paying 7.5% to a pension scheme? What is the Minister of Finance doing about this, given the last one was obsessed with taking over the accountants’ jobs at the ministry to the detriment of policy?

  5. VaSenior Reporter nyaya yenyu handisi kukwanisa kuinzwisisa.There is a Margaret Masiya whose mentioned in the first line then a Kanyemba.Nyaya ndeyani iyi

  6. upto I saw the paycheck which had said $9176 , I accept that my mom in-law woz actualie taking home money parttime from their laptop. . there best friend has done this for less than 1 year and recently cleared the loans on their place and bought a great new Lotus Elise . this page,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, http://WWW.Works6.COM

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