Some of the pensioners who spoke to The Zimbabwean said they could not survive on the amounts paid out by the multinational company to those whose policies have reached maturity. After contributing substantial amounts of their hard-earned money towards securing their future, the policy holders are living in penury. Some have already died without receiving anything.
Joshua Weller (72) is one of the policyholders who feels he has been short-changed by Old Mutual. The value of his policies, worth $26,831 and $53,970 plus profits, has now been pegged at $2.61 and $5.31 respectively.
Weller said it was ironic that the company is spending large sums of money on adverts celebrating its “over 165 years of wisdom in clients’ investment” when it had utterly failed to do so.
The company responded: “Our promotional activities, including advertising campaigns, are carefully considered to ensure support to the business for the benefit of our clients.”
“I have been in possession of two policies since 1994 and 1998 when the Zimbabwe dollar was still in existence. In May 2010, I got the shock of my life when a lady receptionist at the company’s Bulawayo branch told me that my two policies were now worth only $7.92. This is nonsense. Over the years Old Mutual invested my money. So what has happened to my profits?” asked a fuming Weller.
Old Mutual responded: “All contributions were invested in Zimbabwe in line with the law. The performance of the investment assets is what determines the level of pensions paid out or fully commuted. We took care in selecting growth-type assets and these have delivered some value to our clients. But we could not protect them against the full decline in value caused by the economic melt-down during the hyperinflation period. Some of the asset classes that we were required to hold, such as prescribed assets and money market, were totally wiped out.”
Since 2010 Weller has been battling to get a decent annuity from the company. “Old Mutual has purchased numerous buildings, using our monies and some of that rent should be utilised to pay pensions,” he said.
Old Mutual replied: “Real estate is an asset class that provides an investment alternative to stocks or shares, unit trusts, bonds, and options, amongst several others. It was one of the asset classes we held during the hyperinflationary period that helped us to retain some value.”
Another pensioner, Mike Moyo, accused Old Mutual management of lining up a 25% chunk of the local assets for workers under the controversial indigenisation programme while ignoring the plight of policyholders. But the company said the indigenization transaction with government included a component to try to assist pensioners.Post published in: News