By Shingirai Vambe
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) recently engaged with various National Employment Councils (NECs) in Zimbabwe, focusing on employees on a sensitisation program set to encourage sharing of data and management.
The one-day symposium that was held in Harare saw NSSA officials revealing to stakeholders the importance of registering and updating information relating to social security.
NSSA officials told delegates that the majority of employees are currently not updating their registration details and employment status with the Authority, saying this is a huge gap that needs closure.
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Simon Masanga (in a speech read on his behalf by director of Labour & Administration Mr C.Z Vusani) said the event is timely because they want to enhance NSSA’s data integrity in line with its mandate.
NSSA has established a data management unit which is currently working with other key stakeholders to try and capture mutual benefits and strategic relationships.
“As Government, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that social security is a priority as such, through NSSA we want to make sure that all employees are compliant, and all employees take up their obligations to ensure that the future is secure,” Masanga said.
Vusani urged trade unions and NECs to be honest with data and information.
“We are going to approach the registrar of companies to give us information on all registered companies, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to assist with data of all employees receiving their salaries through banks.
“If we are to check, are all the employees registered with NECs and workers unions also registered with NSSA, the figures should tally. Employers and trade unions, we may need to check on ourselves, there is need for self-introspection” said Vusani.
Zimbabwe has seen several companies closing down over the past two decades, with the majority being privately-owned.
Company owners, in some cases give false figures of the number of their employees, so that they under-pay on their premiums.
This means some employees are not even registered with NSSA.
The disgruntlement has emanated from the perception and payouts by the Authority, even when some contributions are being made in foreign currency, in most cases NSSA’s pay outs are in local currency.
However, National Data Manager, Gwyneth Mazhude, said pensioners have been forthcoming than active contributors to the social security.
“Majority of employed personnel have not verified or even decided to pass through our offices to check if the information we have is correct. Some have changed companies and it is the right of all working citizens to notify and check with our officers if the data is correct”.
“Often are times when people want to visit our offices after retirement or when they are close to retirement,” added Mazhude.
NSSA General Manager, Dr Charles Shava, said the national data management unit was established to enhance the Authority’s schemes.
“Accurate and reliable data are the cornerstone for the authority’s day-to-day business activities. More importantly, they are basis upon which the long-term sustainability our schemes can be assessed and guaranteed”.
NSSA earlier reported a big pool of unclaimed benefits funds due to various reasons, which include relocation, retrenchments and permanent disability that may cause one to relocate.
According to a report by the Insurance and Pension Commission (IPEC), pensions unclaimed funds stood at ZWL$7.2 billion as at December 31 2022 compared to ZWL$2.97 billion reported at 31 December 2021.
The ballooning figure has been attributed to the lack of awareness and poor communication by the authorities.
Delegates in attendance told NSSA to introduce the USSD mobile code as most people in marginalised places may fail to reach to kiosks that NSSA is in the process of establishing across the country for easy access and assistance of those who would have migrated to rural areas.
NSSA has also established, digital, an online portal page where one can access or register his or her information.
Some of the attendees from NEC were not aware of this new development.
A call has also been made, for the Authority to use modern day technology and media to communicate and also use the 16 official local languages in informercials.
Mazhude added that they are working with other government parastatals like the ZIMSTAT and the Registrar General to acquire accurate information and data, but that alone is not enough.
NSSA deputy Director, Contribution and Compliance, Edmund Kaseke, said 1.4 million people are under cover with 36,897 active employers while having 82,028 inactive employers.
He said citizens from the age of 16 to 65 are illegible to register and contribute towards benefits and old age retirement pension benefits.
NSSA is urging citizens, according to SI 168/90 to report within 14 days in case of accidents, so that claims are prepared and payments are done on time.
According to Authority’s statistics, in 2014 there were 106 work related deaths which dropped in 2021 with 42, while in 2022 the number went up to 66 deaths.
With the digital migration, in developed countries claims are done on line, with the Ministry of Information Communication Technology (ICT) initiative through the Postal Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) of adult literacy, setting up of Community Information Centres in rural areas, the elderly can access the NSSA self service portal.
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