THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is upgrading its database in order to provide workers on its National Pension Scheme (NPS) with detailed statements of contribution, which were last issued 22 years ago, an official has said.
The NPS is administered in terms of Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993.
The scheme is for every working Zimbabwean above the age of 16 years and under the age of 65 years who is in permanent employment, seasonal, contract or temporary employment.
It is compulsory and upon joining, every registered employer is issued with a social security registration number and every registered employee is issued with a social security number for life.
NSSA has been struggling to fix its database, which is often characterised by multiple pension contribution numbers for individuals.
NSSA’s acting chief social security officer, Shepherd Muperi, admitted that the statutory pension fund had been unable to update workers on contributions for over two decades when contacted for comment on the sidelines of an insurance and pensions indaba held in the capital last week.
“Huge efforts have been put into sorting the issue and we are almost through (with) the regularisation of database and (will) be able to start issuing the contribution statements soon,” said Muperi.
“The contribution statements were issued once in 1995 and suspended because of a number of issues, including the contributors having multiple NSSA numbers and the resistance by some employers,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union’s secretary general, Japhet Moyo, said the labour movement was putting pressure on NSSA to update its registry and inform contributors about their pensions.
“As labour, we are very concerned about the non availability of the contribution figures from NSSA,” said Moyo.
“Everyone would want to know where he or she stands in terms of the investment to NSSA. We are as labour putting pressure on NSSA so that that information is available to us. They promised us when we met recently over the issue that they are computerising their system so that everyone will be able to know how much he or she has contributed to NSSA. But we don’t know when this will be because as labour, we are no longer patient.”
In 2014, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, proposed to put NSSA under the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) to improve transparency and accountability at the compulsory pension scheme.
The move, which could have taken away control of NSSA from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to the Ministry of Finance, was opposed by Labour Minister Prisca Mupfumira.
Exclusively speaking to The Financial Gazette last year, Mupfumira said: “That will not happen. It’s money for the workers; it cannot be put under IPEC or Treasury. So it’s not going to happen. As the minister responsible (for NSSA), I said no to the plan. I understand its money for the workers. We are different from other insurances.”
A manager with a local short term insurer said: “I have been doing my best to save for retirement but since I started working in the late 90s I don’t know how much I have contributed to NSSA.
“NSSA is supposed to send us statements but I have received nothing ever since. I worked in other countries like Uganda, Zambia and Malawi. I still get statements for my pension contributions.”
Nyasha Zhou, a chartered accountant said the situation undermined contributors’ confidence in the institution.
“It kills confidence,” said Zhou, a former president of the Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe and currently a board member of Public Accountants and Audit Board.
“I must know how much I have contributed to NSSA schemes. I don’t want to expect a higher payout only to get shocks at retirement. NSSA is like a bank; my contributions are an investment. I must know what I am contributing,” said Zhou.