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Zimbabwe's Construction Firms Fail to Remit Pension Contributions

The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers Union says more than 9,000 retrenched workers from the construction industry are not receiving their pension funds as most companies in the sector have not been remitting deductions to the industry’s pension fund as the economic crisis continues to bite.

Union general secretary, Muchapiwa Nicholas Mazarura, told VOA it is sad that retrenched employees are not being paid their pensions.

This, despite construction companies deducting contributions from workers every month. Apparently the firms have not been remitting the funds to pension funds.

Most pension funds have not been remitting deducted monies to pension funds since dollarization in 2009, adding this is affecting thousands of workers being retrenched monthly.

Mazarura said even big construction companies, which sit the industry’s national employment council, a body that negotiates conditions of service and salaries in the industry, are defaulting.

As a result, he said, companies such as Mutual Construction and Magnet Construction, owned by Zanu PF businessman Philip Chiyangwa, have been barred from the employment council.

Mazarura says the union now wants Public Service and Labor Minister, Nicholas Goche, to intervene and ensure the companies pay their dues to the pension fund.

But Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe president, Gift Mpofu said he was not the construction workers union grievances adding he could not comment for an organization he does not belong to.

Mazarura said if the minister does not resolved the problem the union would call for a strike.

A former worker in the construction industry, who is yet to get his pension, told Studio 7 there was no reason for the pension fund not to pay him as he had contributed for years. He adds he knows the fund had invested his money in buildings and other properties.

Pension funds invest workers funds in various forms, some build shopping malls and office blocks to make profit and in the process
raise funds to pay workers upon retrenchment or retirement.

On Wednesday, National Social Security Authority (NSSA) compliance manager, James Chiwera, told a labor workshop in Mutare that only 50 percent of companies currently operating in the country are paying the compulsory employee contributions to the pension fund as the economy continues to struggle.

A parliamentary investigation into NSSA’s operations revealed contributions were not being properly managed and that NSSA senior workers and managers were borrowing money from the fund at very low rates while pensioners were getting peanuts monthly, making their lives miserable.