Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
GOVERNMENT is working frantically towards an upward review of pension payouts as part of safety nets to cushion against price increases.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza told The Herald over the phone on Sunday that technical teams are presently working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to raise pension payouts and give pensioners a decent life.
Critically, the Government has engaged the People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) management over the challenges experienced by pensioners when withdrawing their monthly payouts.
Asked if she had seen a video that has gone viral on social media in which pensions were critical of the POSB, Minister Nzenza said; “This is so terrible for the pensioners and yesterday (Saturday) we engaged POSB and they are working on rectifying the situation. But we need to get the pensions reviewed upwards.”
Pressed to divulge the extent of the increase being considered, Minister Nzenza said negotiations were still underway and no figure has been agreed on.
“I cannot possibly give a figure without the advice from the technical teams working with Treasury,” she said.
It could not be immediately established how much Government pensioners get, but National Social Security Authority (NSSA) pensioners get $80 while survivor pensioners get $32.
Minister Nzenza said they also work “closely with World Food Programme where we do cash transfer for the most vulnerable in some districts such as Buhera, Rushinga and Masvingo”.
“But for the pensioners, we are reviewing the current method of payment and are already in conversation with banks at technical level to find a better way for pensioners to access money,” she said.
The POSB yesterday apologised for the delays in disbursing cash to the pensioners.
“The bank wishes to clarify that it experienced an unfortunate delay in disbursing cash to its valued customers, the Government pensioners on their designated pay date, 3 October, 2019.
“This caused regrettable frustration to the customers who met with the bank’s officials on the morning of the said day at the POSB head office, Causeway Building,” said POSB in a statement.
The bank added that despite initial challenges, it started processing withdrawals at its Harare branches by midday, and extended its banking hours to accommodate all customers.
“POSB sincerely regrets the inconvenience experienced by its valued customers and has put measures in place in liaison with the Reserve Bank of Bank of Zimbabwe to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents on future pension dates,” said POSB.
This is not the first time that pensioners have complained at the unimpressive service by the bank. Sometime last year, over 20 pensioners visited The Herald to lodge a complaint against the bank over delays in processing withdrawals.