Who is NSSA really benefiting – contributors or the government?

As Zimbabwe continues to spiral out of control in an economic vortex - sinking deeper into an abyss - numerous employees are getting laid off from companies without any terminal benefits, becoming more dependant on payouts from the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

nssaHowever, NSSA has not been much of a ‘knight in shining armour’, as its operations have raised more questions than answers, as beneficiaries have been wondering just how the amount that one receives is calculated.

Recently I received an email from a retired senior bank manager, who said that he had been contributing to NSSA from 1994 to 2011, and his monthly salary at retirement was US$3 578, but he is receiving a monthly payout of a paltry US$60.

I have also received reports from people who are receiving as little as US$28 per month, despite holding quite senior positions within their companies prior to retirement.

There are others who earned – and therefore, contributed less to NSSA – who are receiving similar monthly amounts.

Indeed, how does NSSA calculate these amounts?

Furthermore, I have received allegations that NSSA no longer provides payouts for school fees.

I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to contact NSSA headquarters for an explanation – their email being non-functional, as I wanted a record of the enquiry and their response.

Nevertheless, the majority of NSSA beneficiaries are a disgruntled lot, and they need a clear explanation, as they feel that they are been fleeced their hard-earned contributions.

I have even recommended to all those who approached me to consider litigation against NSSA, possibly through human rights lawyers – so that the authority can be forced to divulge how it calculates the payouts, and should any fraudulent activities be detected, the beneficiaries can sue for compensation.

In fact, the cumbersome manner in which NSSA handles the application process  for those wishing to receive payouts, does not help their cause.

The question that is on every recipient’s mouth is, ‘what is the revenue being accrued from all those NSSA buildings and investments being used for, and who exactly is it benefiting – certainly, not the intended beneficiaries?’

No matter how the payouts are calculated, it certainly does not make any sense that – having forced all these workers to contribute to NSSA, assuring them of a comfortable retirement – this state-run entity can now have the audacity to pay beneficiaries an insulting monthly amount such as US$28, or a former senior bank manager – US$60.

Seriously?

The government and NSSA have to come out in the open and explain clearly and satisfactorily to all the beneficiaries on how their payouts are calculated and how they are expected to survive on such measly amounts.

I do not believe that the government and NSSA has ever had the decency to undertake such a mission, as witnessed by the number of beneficiaries who have raised their ire.

Beneficiaries deserve respect from the government and NSSA, as their contributions are the seeds that have led to the investments that are now sustaining the authority and its staff.

Beneficiaries deserve an explanation, and payouts that can adequately sustain them.

There is need for a thorough audit of exactly how much the authority is earning from its investments, and whether what the beneficiaries, and NSSA staff and management are receiving makes any sense.

I believe that the beneficiaries deserve to earn far more than NSSA staff and management, as these are their contributions – since that money was then invested, the beneficiaries must be awarded their dividends.

Every cent that was contributed to NSSA should be accounted for.

All beneficiaries must be sure that their hard-earned contributions are now not being used to benefit a few in government or in the authority.

The manner in which the staff and management at NSSA offices are usually haughty and rude leads one to believe that these people do not even appreciate that they owe their employment to these beneficiaries.

We implore government to urgently institute a thorough investigation into the operations of NSSA, and release this report to all the beneficiaries.

Simultaneously, the beneficiaries should also institute legal action to force the authority to divulge its financial operations, and seek re-compensate should any fraudulent activities be found.

Beneficiaries should not stand back and wait for the government to take any drastic action, as past experience has shown that this will never happen.

Contributors to the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) know that all too well.

What brings my bile right up to my throat is the fact that the vast majority of NSSA beneficiaries are elderly people, who have dedicated most of their lives to the development of this country – albeit all their efforts being disregarded by the government.

These are people who no longer have the strength to make a living through any other means, and were looking forward to these payouts – especially as they were forced to contribute to this fund, with assurances of a comfortable retirement.

What type of a nation brings such misery to its own elderly?

Has the government and NSSA reached such depths of cruelty?

Has the government and NSSA lost all conscience?

As much as Zimbabwe is being (mis)governed by a callous lot, but extending that to the helpless elderly certainly breaks all cruelty records, as the elderly deserve respect and honour – something that I thought a government led by a 92 year old would well appreciate.

° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist and commentator, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes any feedback. Please feel free to call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]com

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