Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Parliamentarians want the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and medical aid societies to be regulated by the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) or a similar body to improve transparency and ensure the contributing public enjoy intended benefits.
The MPs said this during debate of the Insurance and Pensions Commission Amendment Bill that is before the National Assembly.
The Bill seeks to enhance the operations of IPEC to regulate the insurance sector for the benefit of the public.
However, legislators want NSSA and medical aid societies to be included under organisations that are regulated by IPEC.
NSSA and medical aid societies are under the purview of the Ministries of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and Health and Child Care.
Dzivarasekwa legislator, Mr Edwin Mushoriwa, said it was important that NSSA and medical societies be regulated in the same manner banks were under the supervision of the RBZ.
“I am going to propose and suggest that we need to make sure that the Clause 4 (1) (a) in the principal Act should and must be amended to include NSSA and medical aid societies under the organisations that are regulated by IPEC,” he said.
“This is the platform that we have. We have to empower IPEC. We have to capacitate IPEC. Let us give IPEC as much powers as possible. It is wrong in my view, for the Honourable Minister (of Finance and Economic Development) to say IPEC does not have the capacity and yet he thinks that the Minister of Public Service and Social Welfare has more capacity than IPEC or to say that the Ministry of Health has more capacity than IPEC.”
“That is not good. If you look at RBZ, there is no banking institution that can do what it wants, including state banks like ZB. If you look at all the banks where Government has got the majority shareholding, they are all answerable to RBZ. That is what we want under this.”
Zanu PF chief whip Cde Pupurai Togarepi said some organisations were venturing into health insurance to run away from regulation.
“One experience that I had was to see an insurance company that is running a health insurance,” he said. “After being strictly regulated by IPEC, they would migrate to medical aid societies where they are not regulated.
“Where they are coming from, they have already stolen people’s monies and can now move to another line of business which does the same thing. Now, because there is that freedom in that sector where people have not enough confidence to supervise the credential soundness of those companies, they will just move to medical aid societies and run away from IPEC.”
Cde Togarepi said the major expertise that was needed in insurance was actuarial science and IPEC had got those competencies.
“There could be other reasons,” he said. “If there are areas where medical aid would need doctors, association of doctors, the Ministry or anybody, those areas can remain regulated by those people.
“However, the credential part or the soundness part which will then cause problems when a medical aid society fails to meet its obligations must be regulated by a competent institution that can deal with credential issues.”
Harare East legislator Mr Tendai Biti said corruption scandals that had been unearthed at NSSA in the past called for stringent regulation so that the organisation fulfils the mandate it was created for.
“So, to leave this humongous, monolithic known as NSSA to go unregulated Hon. Chair, we will not be doing our job as elected Members of Parliament,” he said. “NSSA must be regulated and de-regulated by IPEC. If the fear of the Minister is that IPEC does not have the capacity, let us give them the capacity now.
“We can listen to an argument by the Minister or anyone that says let us create a separate regulator for them but to say they should just be let free, we as Members of Parliament would have been failing in our duties. One of our core responsibilities is that of supervision.” Musikavanhu representative Cde Joshua Murire said NSSA had to be regulated to ensure it remained relevant to the needs of workers.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube acknowledged the concerns of the legislators and adjourned debate on the matter for further consultations since it was a major amendment that was being proposed.