THE government has dumped hundreds of pensioners, who served in its predecessor Rhodesian administration before relocating to South Africa at independence in 1980.
This is according to the Flame Lily Foundation, an organisation set up to keep track of the affected pensioners and their welfare since 2005.
But, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Priscah Mupfumira yesterday said she was unaware of the issue.
“I am not aware of that. I would have to confirm.
“If they are far, maybe forex would be the issue, but for those in the country, I don’t see any reason why they will not be given. On our scheme we have them, but I will check,” she said.
Flame Lily says its 300-plus members averaging 78 years old, with the oldest now 101, had turned destitute after the government abruptly scrapped their payouts without explanation.
“We established a project to assist those who were destitute and whose only income was a South African state welfare grant,” Flame Lily Foundation national secretary John Redfern said.
“In 2012, the Zimbabwe Government Pension Master let us know that pensioners in South Africa could apply for their pension to be restored.
“With our assistance, over 500 pensioners were able to regain their lost pensions, backdated to 2009 when Zimbabwe adopted the US dollar as the country’s official currency.
“Due to a change in policy, most of these pensioners have not received any payment since August 2016 and are now facing renewed financial hardship.”
The pensioners have since sought British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing’s mediation in attempts to restore payouts, which turned erratic since the country’s hyper-inflationary period in 2003.
Some of the affected former employees served in the Rhodesian police and military. They were able to access an “incentive scheme” introduced during Abel Muzorewa’s short-lived Zimbabwe-Rhodesia administration in 1979.
This scheme made it possible for certain categories of public servants to take early retirement on a reduced fixed pension.
At 50, the fixed pension was converted to a normal pension (that is the person became eligible for pension increases).
The incentive scheme was guaranteed, along with other government pensions, in the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 that preceded the election in 1980.
In a membership survey conducted in October 2016, 24 of the 300 respondents were aged over 90.
Retired judge George Smith recently spoke directly to the commissioner for the Public Service as well as the Pension Master on behalf of pensioners.
Laing has also discussed the problem with Mupfumira.
Redfern refused to reveal the amounts owed to the pensioners, citing confidentiality issues.
— Online/Staff Reporter