Cash-rich National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has embarked on a desperate race to repair its battered image anchored on transparency, honesty, and accountability, acting GM Arthur Manase has said.
A statutory body established in terms of the NSSA Act of 1989 to provide social security, the authority, which is run on a pay-as-you-go basis, has been the feeding trough for managers, board members and politicians at the expense of pensioners who continue getting pittances.
Despite being heavily invested in almost every sector in Zimbabwe with its investments surpassing US$1bn, making it one of the few sources of liquidity in the market, NSSA has been criticised for not fully meeting the needs of its stakeholders who are struggling to make ends meet.
Manase told a virtual meeting last week that there is a plan to “pass to future generations a better and responsible NSSA, which is able to deliver a realistic pension and its other mandate”.
“We want NSSA not to make any excuses anymore. We have made a move to create a new NSSA, which is anchored on three pillars or principles which relates to transparency, honesty, and accountability,” Manase said.
“We want total transparency in the new NSSA. We also want honest people in NSSA where there should be zero tolerance to opaque transactions and the new NSSA should be accountable unlike in the past where NSSA was shrouded in secrecy. The new NSSA will not depart from these three principles, that’s the new trajectory.”
NSSA currently offers workers two mandatory social security schemes, which are the National Pension Scheme which supports retirees above the age of 60 and the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund for workers injured or killed in work-related accidents or suffer from work-related diseases.
Payout for retirees are currently pegged at less than ZWL$1 000 a month on average, to pay their bills and live in retirement.
This has, however, been described as pathetic and far below the alleviation of poverty stratum.
For those pensioners living in rural areas, they exhaust this little amount on bus fare and related travel expenses to withdraw the funds from banks.
Their situation has been exacerbated by inflationary pressures, which has severely weakened consumer spending with pensioners being the hardest hit.
Manase took over at the helm of NSSA last year, replacing David Makwara who reverted to his role as NSSA director of investments disclosed that the authority was undergoing a massive restructuring exercise.
“NSSA is supposed to generate income which should have a positive impact on the quality of life of Zimbabweans and the economy in general. We are looking at projects which are going to have a social impact. We are also looking at the overall capacitation of NSSA. We have a lot of recruitment happening and we are also developing systems so that NSSA is effective and diligently deliver on its mandate,” he said.
Manase said NSSA was spreading its footprints into the rural communities to ensure easy access to the institution’s facilities. Pensioners who spoke to Business Times yesterday said the situation was worrisome as the monthly payout, was not a liveable end of career payout, which was large enough for few basic, resulting in pensioners feeling serious consequences.
“I am depressed. It’s painful because I spent close to 40 years contributing to my pension on to get this little payout which cannot sustain me,” Jeremiah Chihoro, a Chitungwiza based pensioners told Business Times this week.
A pension expert Nomsa Khumalo said workers should back up their public pensions at NSSA with saving into a private pension to top up the money they will get from NSSA when they retire. She said failure to save enough into a pension scheme means poverty in older age was a sad inevitability.