LET’S SORT OUT PENSIONS MESS

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 08:07:19 +0000

THE plight of pensioners in the country remains a thorny issue which undoubtedly calls for a lasting solution.

It is unfortunate that despite serving their country for several decades, it has become a nightmare for pensioners to access their money on time.

Many retirees look up to that money to survive in their new life but instead of getting their money in the shortest possible time, they are forced to wait for as long as five to 10 years or even more to get their dues.

As a result, scores of retirees have become destitute while unlucky ones have even died of depression, leaving their hard-earned money to be enjoyed by their kith and kin.

It is mind boggling that this problem continues to haunt this country year after year despite cries by pensioners to have the problem solved once and for all. 

While red tape and lack of adequate funds have been cited as reasons for delays in paying retirees on time, some institutions entrusted with managing pensioners’ funds have mismanaged the monies.

Given this backdrop, we agree with calls by the Zambia Union of Government and Allied Workers (ZUGAW) for Government to set up a commission of inquiry into the operations of all pension funds in the country.

ZUGAW president Muyaywa Mwiyaluka believes only a public inquiry will reveal the true state of the pension system in the country.

He observes that there is need to restore a sense of responsibility among pension fund managers and abate any tendencies of abuse of pension funds.

Mr Mwiyaluka’s remarks come in the wake of damming revelations of possible financial impropriety of funds levelled against Saturnia Pension Fund. 

“In view of all the allegations, we now doubt our pension system. If Pension contributions under any pension fund are prone to unprocedural transactions, then our pension benefits may not be in safe hands,” says Mr Mwiyaluka.

These are serious allegations which should be probed and if found wanting, culprits should be brought to book and punished.

Why should pension funds be used to enrich some unscrupulous individuals while retirees and their families are left to wallow in misery?

The Saturnia case indeed casts a dark cloud over pension fund managers and even worse begs the question if pension monies are in safe hands.

Of course, there are pension fund managers that are transparent and efficient in their operations and are able to pay pensioners within the shortest possible time once all paper work is done.

Social security as the name suggests, is crucial to employees anywhere in the world as it guarantees protection to workers after their retirement.

Even the Constitution of Zambia recognises pension benefits as a right to all employees.  That is how important pension funds are.

It is therefore heart-breaking to hear of retirees failing to access their money they have sweated for because it has been mismanaged or due to teething bureaucracy.

We agree with Mr Mwiyaluka’s suggestion that Government must institute a commission of inquiry into the operations of all pension funds.

No pensioner should become destitute after serving his or her country diligently.

Retirement is something a person should look forward to and not dread – because the money might never be there.

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