Pensioners earning US$3 a month

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Pensioners have approached Parliament raising alarm that their pension contributions had been eroded by inflation, resulting in some beneficiaries getting between ZWL $30 (US3) and $80 (US$8) per month. 

The Zimbabwe Old People Association (ZOPA) beseeched Parliament to look into issues of lack of service delivery by Chitungwiza Municipality and Pensions that had been eroded by inflation.

According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT), the monthly cost of living for an ordinary family of five, in February, stood at $25 935 (US$250). 

The agency reported the Food Poverty Line (FPL) for one person in February 2021 was $3 934 while the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for one person stood at $5 187 in February 2021.

ZOPA’s petition was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

“The petitioners were aggrieved that their pension contributions had been eroded by inflation, resulting in some beneficiaries getting between ZWL $30 and $80 per month as their retirement pension payouts,” read the report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

“The petitioners complained that while they were still working, they made contributions to NSSA monthly as pension contributions and expected to get meaningful pension payouts at their retirement age.”

“They argued that NSSA and other pension funds such as Local Authorities Pension Fund (LAPF) and Unified Pension Fund collect the contributions and in-turn invested the money so that pensioners are paid decent amounts to enable the elderly to live a comfortable life after retirement.  ZOPA complained that the amounts paid to pensioners were inadequate to look after senior citizens, who tend to have ailments such as high blood pressure and diabetes.  The pension payouts were insufficient for the elderly to buy food, medication and pay their utility bills.”

ZOPA believed that their valuable contributions were invested by the respective pension houses.  

Much to their dismay, they were receiving meagre payments from these pension houses.

The petitioners wanted pension houses to adjust the payments they were receiving to match the current economic demands.  

ZOPA accused Chitungwiza Municipality of not remitting the funds they deducted from workers as pension contributions to LAPF.

Chitungwiza City Council acting CEO, Evangelista Machona admitted that there had been delays in pensioners getting their dues from pension houses due to the current prevailing difficult macro-economic situation in the country.  

She admitted that pensioners were not getting pensions because the Chitungwiza Municipality was not remitting pension contributions in full to the Funds.  

The Committee was informed that Chitungwiza Council had managed to settle the outstanding payments with Unified Pension Fund and that the pensioners were now accessing their pension through Unified Pension Fund.  The Council was in the process of settling its debts to bring its members up to date with payments.

Turning to service delivery by Chitungwiza municipality, petitioners complained bitterly about the poor state of the road network in Chitungwiza which they said was characterised by potholes.  

In response to the poorly maintained road network, Chitungwiza Municipality informed the Committee that it had last received funds for road maintenance from ZINARA in December 2019 and the disbursements were inadequate to undertake meaningful road maintenance. 

Council was therefore, using its own funds to carry out its road repairs and the amount was not enough to make any significant impact.  

The Council indicated that it did not receive any disbursement from ZINARA in 2020. 

Chitungwiza Municipality established a roads levy as a way to bolster its funds for road maintenance. However, very little revenue has been collected from this levy because residents were not paying.

The petitioners informed the Committee that most households in Chitungwiza had no tapped water.  They claimed that only houses built on low lying areas were receiving water.  ZOPA expressed concern that residents were being billed for water that they never accessed.

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