A BITTER fight for the control of the cash-rich National Social Security Authority (Nssa) has erupted after it merged this week that the Ministry of Finance, through the Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec), wants the over US$1 billion state-run pension fund under its ambit with labour unions threatening to take legal action to stop the plan, businessdigest has learnt.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
Official sources told businessdigest this week that the Ministry of Labour called business and labour representatives to an emergency meeting on Monday this week to tell them of plans by the Finance ministry to take over the running of Nssa through Ipec.
The meeting was attended by, among others, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Japhet Moyo and a representative of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU).
“Labour and business were called on to a meeting by the Ministry of Labour on Monday this week where they were told that the ministry is on fire as there were plans to move Nssa to the ministry of Finance,” a source said.
“Both business and labour have vowed to fight this to the bitter end. The Ministry of Finance’s proposed take-over of Nssa funds, which both business and labour contribute to, will be tantamount to taxation without representation.
The Nssa pension funds are the only source of liquidity, so the vultures are circling.”
The two social partners have not ruled out going to present their complaints to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Moyo confirmed the meeting, adding that they would not accept the take over of the Nssa pension fund by Ipec.
“It is correct that we are not happy with the proposal of having Ipec taking over the running of the pension fund. This is not the first time this has been tabled,” Moyo said. “The Nssa pension fund is run on a tripartite basis but if it goes through Ipec, we will have no say in the administration of the fund.”
Moyo added that they are ready to go to court as well as take the issue up with the ILO if Nssa is compulsorily taken over by Ipec. He said that the pension fund could be abused if Nssa funds are administered by Ipec.
The Nssa fund has always been a source of controversy with a number of senior managers being fired over mismanagement of funds.
Nssa has investments in banking, insurance, hospitality and property sectors. Its investments have surpassed US$1 billion.
The authority has also been accused of making bad investment decisions such as building a hotel in Beitbridge. The hotel was leased to the Rainbow Tourism Group which later pulled out, saying the venture was loss-making. Nssa have also sunk funds in failed financial institutions such as the defunct Capital Bank.
Nssa was created through the National Social Security Authority Act (Chapter 17:04) of 1989. The legislation empowers the Minister of Labour and Social Services to establish a social security scheme for the provision of benefits to or in respect of all employees as may be specified in the notice and may in the like manner amend or abolish any such scheme.