THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has blasted the government over its failure to consult them as a tripartite partner over recent changes at the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) saying the dissolution of the state entity board was meant to avoid scrutiny over its decisions.
Labour minister Paul Mavima dissolved the Nssa board in November last year. He said he had dissolved the board as part of transforming the national pension insurer. Mavima then appointed a three-member interim board which will oversee the administration of the authority with the substantive board being constituted three months after the board’s dissolution.
A number of substantive decisions have been taken since the board, which comprised representatives from the tripartite partners, namely labour, business and government, was dissolved.
This includes the substantive appointment of Arthur Manase as the general manager and the decision to sell 32,55% of its shareholding in the ZSE-listed tube and pipe producer, Turnall Holdings Limited together with 31,22% of its 66,22% stake in First Mutual Holdings Limited.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said labour was opposed to the decisions to sell Nssa shares in various companies particularly given the parlous state of the economy adding that selling shares now would short change pensioners as they would be sold for a song.
“Our considered view is that Nssa was aware of our position regarding its restructuring and investment focus and is it a coincidence that it is happening at a time when there are no social partners in the current interim board?” Moyo said “Unfortunately Nssa is known for making wrong investment decisions and they have yet to prove that this time they got it right.”
Moyo said they had no doubt that the dissolution of the board was to force through their decisions without the scrutiny of the tripartite partners. ZCTU president Peter Mutasa described the making of decisions at a time the board had been dissolved as “a heist”.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president Israel Murefu, which represents business in the Nssa board, said they had not been consulted over some of the recent changes at Nssa, but expressed hope that the investment decisions made will benefit the pension fund.
“I think that the sooner they put in place a fully constituted tripartite board the better. This will ensure that the tripartite partners give their input in the decisions made by Nssa,” Murefu said.
He revealed that Mavima has asked for names of individuals to represent business on the board to be put in place.
The standoff between government and labour over the recent changes at Nssa demonstrates the continued mistrust and resentment between the two partners.
In May 2017 then labour minister Prisca Mupfumira removed Mutasa from the Nssa board accusing him of working against the authority and leaking confidential information. This resulted in the labour body dragging Mupfumira to court to push for his reinstatement. Mutasa was eventually reinstated when Patrick Zhuwao replaced Mupfumira as labour minister
The mistrust between government and labour was also reflected by Mutasa’s remarks at the Emcoz congress held in Bulawayo in 2019.
“If you look at what is wrong in our country it is because there is no democratic ownership of anything. It is for those who fought for the liberation of the country to do what they want and everyone else must just follow,” Mutasa said. “I used to go to the (then Labour) minister (Sekai Nzenza) alone when invited but now I am afraid to go alone. I have to hire some people. That is how bad the relationship is. So we must talk about these things freely.”
He also pointed out that social partners are not consulted and are taken by surprise when policies such as ZimAsset, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and now the National Development Strategy are announced by the government.