THE National Social Security Authority (Nssa) lost close to 18 000 contributors due to retrenchments and company closures as at September 31 2016 on the back of a floundering economy, official figures have shown.
By Hazel Ndebele
Zimbabwe’s economy is this year sliding into recession due to low exports, declining foreign direct investment and weakening regional currencies among other factors.
Statistics from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) indicate that at least 236 companies closed shop between January and August this year.
“Between January and September 2016, a total of 17 752 employee accounts ceased being funded,” Nssa board chair Robin Vela told the Zimbabwe Independent.
Nssa provides social security benefits for people in formal employment, including retirement pension, survivor’s pension, invalidity benefits, children’s allowances and funeral grants.
In terms of benefits, Nssa pays out a retirement pension, a surviving spouse pension, children’s pension, funeral grant, invalidity grant and, for injured workers, medical costs, prosthetics and wheelchairs.
The Nssa pension is capped at US$60 per month but Vela said his organisation is looking into increasing the figure.
“It is difficult to give an exact date when the pension figure will be increased, however, it is something that we are pursuing, hence the raft of measures we have implemented to reduce operational costs and increase investment income,” he said.
“While it may not be at the desired level, it’s important to note that Nssa has been able to pay out pensions on time every month, giving pensions a predictable cycle for better planning.”
Vela said Nssa was also owed by various employers and the total amount of contributions and premiums outstanding as at December 31 2015 stood at US$252,5 million.
To improve convenience, reduce costs and leverage technology, Nssa was migrating pensioners to mobile payment platforms, he said.
“Service level agreements with all the mobile operators have been signed therefore Nssa has begun encouraging pensioners to register for mobile money on their mobile network of choice. Advertisements in mainstream media will begin soon,” he said.
Vela said Nssa sees an increase in the mobile money uptake owing to the prevailing liquidity shortage and has noticed that many beneficiaries endure long waiting periods in bank queues — which will be eliminated when using mobile money.
He also said mobile money payments will cut transaction costs on the authority’s part and reduce charges incurred by beneficiaries.
“The migration to mobile money payments is immediate once the pensioner has met all the registration procedures,” Vela said.