THE majority of Zimbabwean pensioners have been condemned to a life of abject poverty, as their life-long pension savings have been rendered insignificant by the current economic meltdown and can no longer guarantee them a secure life.
by Staff Reporter
The pensioners, most of whom have retired to their rural homes, were still receiving monthly stipends, some as low as $40, a sizeable chunk of which was spent on transport, as they still have to travel to urban centres to collect their pensions, leaving them to survive on less than a dollar per day.
Surveys show that all current pension schemes, private and public, were not providing adequate benefits to pensioners was outlined in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) instruments on social security.
Of concern also are the delayed pay dates, which have further worsened their position.
However, in a speech read on her behalf during a pensioners stakeholder’s consultative conference last week, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira said delayed pay dates were not peculiar to pensioners alone, but to all civil servants. She said the government was making efforts to address and normalise the situation.
“It is understood that staff associations also represent your interests, but, however, it has been observed that information regarding pay dates sometimes is not conveyed timeously to pensioners and this has been communicated to workers’ associations to rectify,” Mupfumira said.
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president, Josephat Kahwema said pensions were the major anchor of social and economic stability in all efficient economies and were the major source of investment funding and provided the baseline social safety net.
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He said the baseline social safety was the major driver of aggregate demand, which was the major locomotive force for economic activity. Pensions, therefore, drive national economic activity.
“This is a serious challenge. Employers are having difficulty in meeting current net salaries and there is usually nothing to transfer to the pension funds. Employers want vibrant pensions funds and regret the circumstances that are making them complicit in letting the funds down,” Kahwema said.
He, however, said employers were cognisant of the need to build up pension funds because they were the major beneficiaries.
The majority of pensioners, including those who started working during the Rhodesia era, were leading a life of destitution.