BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) will remain under the ambit of the Labour ministry despite calls to have the Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) take over control of the cash-rich pension fund, an official has said.
With an asset base in excess of $1 billion, the State-run pension fund is a coveted power base which wields immense influence in Zimbabwe’s corporate and public sectors.
NSSA is the single largest institutional investor on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE). In the past, its resources have been used to bail out failing banks, parastatals and in some cases to bankroll political campaigns.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare chief director Cliford Matorera told an Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) meeting on Monday that NSSA would remain under the auspices of the Labour ministry as it exists to provide safety nets for labour.
“Let me categorically state NSSA is and shall always be under the Ministry of Labour because it is for labour, I don’t think it is a thing to do with competence, but it is an issue to do with the provision as clearly set out by the ministry. NSSA is not an economic animal. It is there to provide social safety nets to labour. Therefore, NSSA is a parastatal under the Ministry of Public Service,” Matorera said.
NSSA’s portfolio has investments which span across the banking, insurance, hospitality and property sectors.
The authority has also been accused of making questionable investments such as the building of a hotel in Beitbridge. The hotel was leased to the Rainbow Tourism Group, which later pulled out, saying the venture was loss-making.
“I don’t think it is an issue of competences. Those issues will be adequately addressed by the relevant players appointed to look into that issue. As I speak today, NSSA will still remain under the control of the Ministry of Public Service, issues to deal with money and financial issues, other government players will come and see if things are being done above board. Ipec can also come and see the operations of NSSA. Other statutory boards that are mandated can come in to look at the operations of NSSA because it is open to everyone.”
Speaking at the same event, Emcoz acting chairperson Albert Murefu said the governance frameworks for NSSA and other parastatals needed to be strengthened by the appointment of competent boards of directors.
Murefu called for the finalisation of amendments to the Labour Act, enactment of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum and Productivity Institute legislation, which have been on the cards for far too long.
“There is need for the protection of savings in the form of pensions which were first eroded in the period 2000 to 2009, and are now being eroded for the second time, as well as the civil service staff rationalisation with a view to exiting ghost workers that undeservedly drain the fiscus and the setting up of a proper pension fund for government employees. The need for consultation of all relevant stakeholders before government makes major policy shifts in pronouncements and avoiding the culture of consulting after the event/implementation must be taken seriously,” Murefu said.
NSSA was created through the National Social Security Authority Act (Chapter 17:04) of 1989. The legislation empowers the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister to establish a social security scheme for the provision of benefits to or in respect of all employees as may be specified in the notice and may, in the like manner, amend or abolish any such scheme.