BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
FORMER employees of the now defunct Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) are being paid $25 per month as pension on retirement, NewsDay reports.
The pensioners who spoke to NewsDay said they had been earning $25, which is equivalent to about US$0,25 on the forex exchange parallel market, since 2017 and there had not been an increment since then.
The monthly pension was devalued by inflation, which has ravaged the economy over some years.
The former employees said the paltry $25, which was being disbursed through First Mutual Holdings Limited, could not be even withdrawn from their accounts as it was way below the monthly bank charges.
One pensioner, Sibangilizwe Mnkandla (58) of Redcliff in Kwekwe, said she had hoped that contributing to pension fund would benefit upon her retirement, but she was getting “literally nothing”.
Mnkandla, who served as a library technician for the steel company for 25 years, said for all the years she was employed by the company, she never defaulted on her pension contributions as the deductions were done on monthly basis directly from her salary.
“It’s as good as I am earning nothing. I wonder why someone should even waste his or her time and resources to process a payment of $25,” Mnkandla said.
“I am sure they need more than $25 in expenses to ensure that the amount is deposited into our bank accounts. After having worked for 25 years for the company and devotedly contributing to the pension fund, I was hoping that I would be earning enough for my upkeep after retirement.
Another pensioner, Wellence Moyana (62) of Kwekwe, also said efforts to engage the responsible authorities for them to resolve the issue so that he could get a reasonable pension were in vain.
Said Moyana: “I have been to pension offices on several occasions making follow ups on when my monthly earning would be reviewed, but nothing has materialised. If there is no guarantee that companies will be able to remit pension funds, then they should stop deducting funds from the employees’ salaries.”
Once Africa’s largest integrated steel works company, Zisco closed down operations in 2008 owing to the economic decline, mismanagement and corruption.
The debt-ridden company then failed to pay its workers.
Insurance and Pensions Commission public relations officer Lloyd Gumbo said he was on leave and requested questions on email, but had not responded by the time of going to print last night.
A number of pensioners said although their employers deducted monthly pension contributions from their salaries, they were not getting their contributions upon retirement.
Following the concerns owing to the dollarisation of the economy, government set up the Smith commission of inquiry in 2015 to assess the conversion methods and processes of insurance and pension assets and liabilities to from Unites States dollars.
The commission recommended insurance schemes to use assets that survived hyperinflation in order to ensure that members got their rightful benefits while maintaining stability and confidence in the insurance and pension industry.