Zimbabwe and Mozambique are exploring ways of working together to advance bilateral cooperation on social security protection issues, Business Times can report.
Yesterday, top government officials, National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and the National Social Security Authority of Mozambique met in the capital Harare for the first bilateral meeting. The meetings will run up to Friday this week.
The meetings are being held under the purview of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique memorandum of Understanding in the field of labour, and its key purpose is to share knowledge and best practices on social security issues, including portability of social security benefits.
Officially opening the bilateral talks in Harare yesterday, acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Clifford Matorera said of the engagements would “provide a blueprint through which our counterparts in the region can emulate as they seek to harmonise their social security systems and facilitate for portability of social security benefits across borders”.
He said social security remains critical in achieving the sustainable development goals particularly SDG 1 on poverty elimination and SDG 10 on reduced inequalities
“By working together, we can leverage our collective knowledge and resources to address the social security challenges facing our countries and the region. Collaboration is key to achieving our social protection objectives and I believe that this bilateral meeting provides an excellent platform for us to share knowledge and best practices and to explore opportunities for collaboration. Let us work together towards achieving our shared objectives of promoting social protection, reducing poverty and promoting economic growth,” Matorera said.
He said social welfare was an essential component of any social protection system as it plays a critical role in alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and promoting economic growth.
Matorera said the two countries face a lack of adequate social protection coverage and a number of the population is excluded from the social security benefits.
“This is particularly true for vulnerable groups such as women, children and the elderly as well as operators in the informal economy who are financially excluded. In Zimbabwe, according to the Labour Force Survey of 2022 only 24% of the labour force has social security coverage,” he said.
He said NSSA was anchored on the principles of universality, equity and affordability. The strategy seeks to provide comprehensive social security coverage to all citizens, particularly the vulnerable and marginalise The strategy is also aligned with the Sadc guidelines on social protection, which provide a framework for the provision of social security in the region, Matorera said.
“Our Mozambican counterparts have also made significant progress in the provision of social security. Mozambique’s National Social Security Strategy aims to provide universal coverage to all citizens, particularly those in the informal sector.
“The strategy also seeks to promote the portability of social security benefits and aligns with the SADC guidelines on social protection. We will agree that our collaboration on social security is not only important for our respective countries but also for the region as a whole.
NSSA general manager, Charles Shava said Zimbabwe and Mozambique share strong historical ties and there is “great scope for mutual benefits from this crucial engagement in areas such as extension of social security coverage to uncovered groups, especially informal economy workers, portability of social security benefits across national borders, occupational safety and health promotion, as well as investment of social security funds.”
The bilateral meeting comes at a time when more than 70% of Zimbabwe’s labour force are excluded from social security coverage, administered by the NSSA, largely due to the worsening economic crisis, which has forced many companies to shut down throwing many workers onto the streets.
The economy has become highly informalised.
Shava said the State-owned pension fund was developing a social security scheme for those working in the informal sector.
‘Already we have produced a report on the feasibility of extending to the informal sector in partnership with the International Labour Organisation. Now we intend to undertake intensive stakeholder engagement which will culminate into a nationwide informal sector needs assessment survey,” Shava said.
Speaking at the same event, the director of the National Institute of Social Security of Mozambique, Heimenegilda Maria Carlos said: “The exchange is critical because both Zimbabwe and Mozambique, we are fighting low coverage of social security. We want to make sure that our system of social security runs efficiently. We also want to identify areas of co-operation with Zimbabwe.”