MOST of Zimbabwe’s pensioners are singing the blues, with information from the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) showing that most retired workers are earning monthly payouts ranging from US$18 and US$46 per month, The NewsHawks has learnt.
The social security agency has been paying a ZW$42 741 monthly retirement pension, which translates to US$46.76 using the US$1:ZW$914 official rate.
This was revealed by Nssa’s deputy director for social protection, Shepherd Mupesa, in his presentation on the overview of the pensions and other benefits scheme at a Zimbabwe-Mozambique engagement programme in Harare this week.
Nssa is also paying out ZW$17 096 (US$18.70) monthly under the invalidity pension fund, which is availed to people who suffer from permanent invalidity. The amount is also equal to the survivors’ monthly payout of ZW$17 096 (US$18.70).
Worsening livelihoods have also been highlighted by an increase in inactive members of society, which Mupesa said reflects the informalisation of the national economy.
According to Nssa’s official statistics, there are a total of 36 307 employer organisations, of which 1 223 894 members are active while 1 816 685 are inactive.
It is also estimated that only 24.3% of the population aged 65 and above are receiving pensions through the Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme (POBS), a mandatory contribution towards social security by individuals mainly working in a formal profession, trade or occupation.
Several Zimbabwean workers across various pension schemes have been reeling under dysfunctional schemes, which has seen people wallowing in poverty.
For instance, former Redcliffe workers are yet to get their pensions, five years after being retrenched without severance packages.
Workers’ unions have been calling on the government to honour the 2015 Smith commission of inquiry report, to give the insurance and pensions industry a transparent process for addressing challenges encountered in converting pensions and insurance benefits from the Zimbabwe dollar to the United States dollar in 2009. The commission was initiated to compensate pensioners across all sectors of the economy who retired between 2007 and 2009.
The pensioners lost their lumpsums due to adverse hyper-inflation which wiped out their balances in banks.
Upon the demonetisation of the Zimbabwe dollar, some pensioners only received as little as US$5 as their one-third lumpsum benefit.
To date, little has been done to cover the loss.
Workers, previously under the Cold Storage Company (CSC) are reeling after failing to access their pensions following their retrenchment in 2019 by the investor, Boustead Beef.
After undertaking to shore up the CSC, a loss-making parastatal, the United Kingdom-based company undertook to capitalise the company’s pension fund in line with an agreement with a Joint Farming Concession Agreement (LJFCA) with the government.
CSC-Boustead Beef, which promised to inject US$130 million in five years from 2019, has injected little capital into the venture, with workers and pensioners failing to access outstanding remittances and pensions.
In 2018, Nssa expressed interest, as an equity investor, to inject up to US$14.3 million that would see the revival of the CSC.
However, the state-run social security agency ceased to be part of the venture in 2019.
After taking over the CSC in 2019, Boustead Beef was obliged to pay outstanding salaries and pensions owed to the company’s workers as agreed in the Livestock Joint Farming Concession agreement (LJFCA) signed in January 2019 between the company and the ministry of Agriculture.
According to the agreement, Boustead Beef would: “Takeover and retire the entire inherited CSC legacy debt as outlined in the High Court of Zimbabwe case number 3099/17, scheme of agreements as per the negotiated payment plan.”
With accumulated debt of over US$33 million since 2009, the CSC owed its current employees US$2 074 948 in salaries and US$4 443 104 in pension funds by 2018, according to the High Court order of agreement.
Workers’ committee members say the company has failed to inject a total of US$290 000 into the pension fund, leaving the workers stranded.