NSSA ill-managed, needs reform – trade unions

NSSA ill-managed, needs reform – trade unions

HARARE, March 31 (The Source) – The National Social Security Authority (NSSA)’s investment activities are putting workers’ funds at risk and do not benefit the owners of the public pension fund, trade unions said on Monday.

Trade union leaders separately told the parliamentary portfolio committee on public service, labour and social welfare that establishment of the compulsory public pension fund was a noble idea but called for its re-orientation to ensure workers and pensioners benefited more from its activities.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president George Nkiwane called for a forensic audit of NSSA books.

“We have since time immemorial called for a forensic audit of NSSA but that has not happened,” he said.

Public Service Association president Cecilia Alexander told the committee workers were opposed to some of the pension funds investment decisions.

“Democracy is when the majority carries the day, we were against investments in Renaissance (now Capital Bank) and Joina City as we did not have adequate information,” she said.

NSSA recently revealed it had invested over $25 million in banks that are struggling to repay the loans.

Alexander said the pension fund was controlled by employers.

“When you look at NSSA, the ground is not level at all. Employers do benefit a lot while workers do not,” she said.

Alexander, who previously sat on the NSSA board, said it was impossible to push for a decision to hike pension payouts, accusing employers of throwing spanners in such endeavours.

She said some of the investments such as housing schemes, said to be targeted at workers and pensioners did not reach the intended beneficiaries.

Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions president Jacob Gwavava said workers must be allowed to have say in decisions that affect NSSA operations.

“We feel it is bad management that has resulted in workers benefitting very little from the organisation,” he said.

The trade unions leaders called for an increase in NSSA pension pay-outs, currently at $60 a month which they described as a pittance.

“If you get a pay-out that cannot buy basic needs, you cannot be satisfied,” said Nkiwane.

The trade unions urged government to review the retirement age to between 45 and 55 years from the current 65 due to the dwindling life expectancy in Zimbabwe.