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Rampant Abuse of Public Funds Irks NSSA Stakeholders

Parliamentarians were told Monday National Social Security Authority funds are being abused. (File Photo)
Public and private worker organizations on Monday expressed concern over what they said was the rampant abuse of public funds and low payouts for retiring employees tied to the state-owned National Security Authority (NSSA).

Benefits, they told parliament, should be increased in line with the country’s poverty datum line, which currently stands at over $500 a month for an urban family of six.

Giving oral evidence to the parliament’s Public Service portfolio committee on their relations with NSSA, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president, George Nkiwane, called for an immediate forensic audit of NSSA saying recent media reports emanating from parliament showing the rampant abuse of public funds was worrying.

He urged lawmakers to amend the NSSA Act and include clauses that will allow for transparency in the company’s operations.

NSSA is one of the state companies implicated in the so-called salaraygate scandal where executives earn huge salaries and benefits at the expense of service delivery.
Managers have also been lending money to each other at low interest rates with contributors on the shop floor level not benefiting.

Nkiwane said payouts by NSSA to pension contributors were too low, noting that they want them reviewed upwards, especially in light of major NSSA investments and loans managers at the state company have been awarding themselves at low interest rates.

Public Service Association president Cecelia Alexander said while the NSSA scheme in which all Zimbabwean employees contribute towards their pension was good, the benefits should be reviewed in line with the poverty datum line.

Currently most retired NSSA members get about $60 per month, an amount union leaders say is a pittance considering the millions going into NSSA coffers monthly.

Nkiwane said the ZCTU is also worried that NSSA continues to exclude domestic workers and their employers from making their own contributions.

He said though worker organizations are represented in the NSSA board, they did not have much say as they only sat in one or two sub-committees of the board thereby having little or no impact at all.

As a result, he said, decisions which do not benefit members including risky investments in which NSSA sank millions into collapsing banks such as Renaissance Bank, are made without the input of the unions or worker organizations.

Alexander accused NSSA management of arrogance and confirmed to parliament that NSSA has been lending money to various companies and top managers without according the same opportunity to contributing members.

She said most NSSA programs did not benefit the majority members who are low income workers.

Meanwhile, the head of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Minerals Unit, Senior Assistant Commissioner Silence Pondo told parliament’s mines committee, his department does not have adequate resources to curb illegal gold mining and trading in the country.

Pondo angered members of the committee when he failed to disclose quantities of gold the police has confiscated, the numbers of those arrests or police officers fired for illegal gold dealings.

When pressed for answers, he promised to furnish the committee with details at a later stage when he got the information from officers around the country.

Dhliwayo said companies are not fully committed to fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities because there is no law that fully binds them to doing so.

He said communities have been left worse off than they were before mining operations began, an outcome he noted is due to lack of proper legislation.

The one-day workshop organized by ZELA looked at corporate social responsibility, business and human rights.