By Tafadzwa Muranganwa-Own Correspondent
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) says it is currently structuring non-monetary benefits to cushion pensioners in this highly inflationary environment.
With the Zimbabwe dollar in constant decline, pensioners have been subjected to paltry monthly payout as a result of the steep rise in consumer prices prompting the pension scheme to devise alternative sweeteners for pensioners.
Pensioners are currently receiving between ZWL$41000 and ZWL$56 000 per month, which is less than US$25 with the widely used parallel market rate.
“Cognizant that being a safety net, pension alone would not provide adequate protection against poverty and the need to enhance resilience of pensioners to shocks, NSSA is working on various non-monetary benefits,” said NSSA acting general manager, Dr Charles Shava.
“The include the revolving loan facility for NSSA pensioners to finance projects for self-sustenance, the knowledge transfer model goat rearing schemes for pensioners, partnerships for discounts on groceries, drugs and other health care projects for pensioners, bank charges exemption for pensioners and medical care for pensioners through our mobile clinic.”
It has increasingly become difficult for pension funds to adequately prosper under the current hyper inflationary environment as value of savings are eroded.
Monthly pay out reviews by NSSA have not been in line with the inflation rate.
Year-on-year inflation for March 2023 declined to 87.6 percent down from 92.3 percent a month earlier according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat)-which remains relatively higher.
NSSA is also providing suitable housing for grossly disabled pensioners under the Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme.
“In a bid to cushion pensioners, NSSA has been regularly reviewing pension levels to cushion pensioners against the effects of inflation. The POBS minimum retirement was ZWL$41 496 in February while the APWCS minimum worker pension was ZWL$55 756.51.”
There is however widespread concern over the low uptake of some of these non-monetary benefits NSSA is offering due to ignorance.
“As NSSA we hope that the improved media coverage of social security matters stemming from the journalists mentorship program will stimulate growth in the number of individuals covered by our social security schemes,” he said.
Only 24 percent of the working population is currently registered with NSSA, which translates to only 1.4 million people covered out of a possible 3.9 million working people.
However, Dr Shava believes the various programs the NSSA is putting in place to cushion pensioners will be able to debunk the myths and misconceptions the public has on social security.
“We have a crucial role to play in alleviating poverty and vulnerability through provision of social security coverage. However, due to myths and misconceptions about social security many individuals either fail to realize that social security is their right and hence do not enroll on our schemes or simply do not access their benefits when they become eligible,” he added.
A statutory body established in terms of the NSSA Act of 1989, NSSA administers the Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme (APWCS) and the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme (POBS). It also administers the Factories and Works Act Chapter 14:08 and the Pneumoconiosis Act 15:08 which deal with occupational safety and health in the workplace.