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GEMS fund a ‘ponzi scheme’: Civil servants

Local News
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CIVIL servants have called for the scrapping of the Government Employees Mutual Savings Fund (GEMS) saying it was a rip-off and a calculated move by their employer to keep them poor.

The loan fund was set up by Cabinet in March 2020 with government saying it would provide $100 million seed capital to improve the welfare of its employees.

Under GEMS, civil servants are subjected to 2,5% monthly wage deductions to support the loan scheme with government promising to refund those who pulled out of the scheme.

Unions representing civil servants said the GEM was a ponzi scheme with Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) leader Obert Masaraure saying they were not consulted.

“The scheme was unilaterally imposed on workers. Teachers opted out but were surprised to realise that deductions continued and are still being done,” Masaraure said.

“Those who have sought loans from GEMS have been denied because they are said to be earning too little to qualify. So they qualify to contribute but don’t qualify to access the loans. We are aware that fat cats in the civil service are benefitting from the contributions of the underpaid junior civil servants.

“We have clear instructions from teachers to call for the scrapping of the fraud called GEMS. We will do everything in our power to make sure that teachers will not suffer this prejudice in 2023.”

Educators Unions of Zimbabwe (EUZ) secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said: “This level of abuse at the hands of an arrogant employer is unparalleled and should never be seen again. Once the scheme has been dissolved, we demand both an audit and an apology for abuse of workers funds.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Ptuz) leader Takavafira Zhou said the scheme was unilaterally introduced by government.

“It’s a deduction that does not help workers and no one has benefitted from the so-called loan fund. It is, therefore, a liability to employees,” he said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) general secretary Goodwill Taderera said the facility has financially disenfranchised their members.

 “We have always said nothing for us, without and we think there has to be a way of getting back to the drawing board, because the board currently running that scheme does not include the civil servants. As civil servants we must be involved,” Taderera said.

Efforts to get a comment from Public Service minister Paul Mavima were fruitless as his phone went unanswered.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare secretary Simon Masanga was also unreachable.

Government said the GEMS was set up to improve the financial welfare of underpaid civil servants through provision of flexible personal loans.

These include home improvements, property acquisition, livestock rearing, and school fees, among other benefits.

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