Govt to blame for pensioners’ plight


IN our NewsDay edition, yesterday, we carried a touching front page lead story in which we were told that the majority of the country’s police officers who are reaching retirement are reportedly refusing to do so.

We understand that their main bone of contention is that they have neither financial savings nor assets to sustain them in retirement, which has resulted in many of them opting to apply for an extension of their period of service in the police force.

We are pretty sure that the number of police officers retiring each year runs into hundreds, given that the force has been recruiting almost every year since independence in 1980. This highlights the gravity of the matter which we believe has seen the force reportedly instituting tougher conditions for officers to extend their service.

Police officers retire at 50, or earlier if they so wish, an age we believe is ideal given their line of work, which requires those in active service to be physically and mentally fit. And we believe that, given the critical nature of this arm of government, we should all be comfortable if the police force insists on not extending the service of those who reach retirement.

What we would, however, wish to highlight is that the situation pertaining in the police force, as far and those applying to extend their service, speaks to the grave state of the country’s pension sector which we feel is doing little to nothing to cater for those who reach retirement, despite them having contributed a lot of money towards their pensions.

A pension is simply defined as “a regular income paid by a government or a financial organisation to someone who no longer works, usually because of their age or health”.

Under normal circumstances, someone who has been dutifully contributing to their pension purse would be more than glad to reach retirement age because they would have served for the period after retirement.

But not in Zimbabwe!

Everyone, either working in government or the private sector, dreads leaving work when they reach retirement as the police officers are currently highlighting. This is a very strange situation facing our nation, which we believe our government should seriously look into.

It is more than embarrassing that our nation finds itself in a very peculiar situation whereby it is failing to look after its pensioners, which is forcing those reaching retirement to continue working long after they should have retired.

Our present pensioners are receiving a pittance, hardly enough to last them a day, which is definitely scaring the hell out of our police officers and many other workers who are reaching retirement. This should worry the government of the day, especially given that it is the country’s largest employer.

Government should be deeply concerned why the contributions by all those reaching retirement is not enough to adequately cater for the bulk of their basic needs while in retirement.

After losing all their savings in the devastating 2008-9 hyperinflation tsunami, government should have by now created an environment whereby it should not scare us to retire after active service to the country in whatever capacity.

Government, which collects the largest share of pension contributions through the National Social Security Authority, must shoulder the blame for the pensioners’ plight.

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