Widow wins pension claim against Zesa

via Widow wins pension claim against Zesa – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 11, 2015

A WIDOW condemned to abject poverty by power utility Zesa Holdings’ refusal to pay her husband’s pension since 2006 has won relief following the intervention of human rights lawyers.

Ruth Mahungo was struggling to put food on the table and send her child to school as she battled to receive her husband’s pension from Zesa, which the State-run electricity firm vehemently claimed it had already paid out.

But Zesa has now restored Mahungo’s full benefits after Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) started assisting the widow.

ZLHR took up the case as part of its mandate of ensuring that powerful institutions do not trample on the rights of the poor and weak with impunity.

Bank records show that Zesa has started paying out its monthly dues to Mahungo and has even written to her informing her about the anticipated pay dates for 2015.

“Please ensure that you complete the Life Certificate to avoid suspension of your pension and other benefits such as medical aid and electricity allowance,” the firm wrote to Mahungo recently.

Mahungo’s son, who was in Grade Seven last year, was thrown out of school due to non-payment of fees while putting food on the table had become a daily struggle for the Kadoma-based widow after her husband’s death in 2006.

She did not receive a cent from Zesa as the power utility insisted it had already paid her the full amount.

Despite several letters from Kenney Masiye of ZLHR demanding payment of Mahungo’s money, Zesa remained adamant that it owed the widow nothing.

Mahungo and her family used to benefit from the Zesa staff pension fund until July 16 2006 when her husband died.

Before her husband’s death, administrators of the pension fund had instructed that a lump sum of the pension contributions be paid into the deceased’s bank account in November 2006 after realising that pensioners were struggling to raise travel expenses to collect the pensions on a monthly basis.

Zesa, however, through its pension fund general manager only identified as W Lungu, claimed to have paid the full amount into a People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) account it purported belonged to Mahungo.

But POSB denied that Zesa deposited the money, stating that Mahungo was not even a client of the bank.

“The full commutation amount of Z$22 584,99 claimed to have been paid by Zesa on the 30th November, 2006 is not on our records as Mrs Mahungo did not have an account with POSB then,” POSB chief executive officer M Mandaza said.

Zesa only capitulated after Masiye took the matter to courts, resulting in Mahungo receiving her dues.