By Tatenda Mugabe
The National Social Security Authority of Zimbabwe (NSSA) is a far cry from meeting the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Social Security Standards number 102 of 1952. NSSA was created to offer Pension and Other Benefits scheme (POBS) to the formal sector employees.
The ILO minimum standards range from unemployment benefit, medical care, maternity, sickness, and family allowances to survivors, employment injury benefits, invalidity and old age. Of these nine pillars identified by ILO towards sustainable social security, NSSA is compliant to the last four only accounting for 44.4%.
Employers in Zimbabwe are consistently deducting NSSA contributions from employee salaries. The contribution is shared between employer and employee at 3.5% of insurable earnings with a ceiling of $700. Some of these funds are not being remitted to NSSA.
Addressing journalists undergoing a one year Insurance Mentorship programme at Holiday Inn in Harare Mr Shepherd Muperi, NSSA Acting Chief Social Security Officer, acknowledged the gap in compliance and alluded to the fact that the contributions from employers is not substantial enough in addition to non-compliance by some employers.
“We surely intend to invest in ensuring that all ILO social security standards are complied with, but we have compliance challenges, where some employers deduct NSSA contributions from employees but they do not remit to us. That is why some people will be shocked upon retirement to realise that they are owing to NSSA instead of being owed pension dues by NSSA” he said.
The gravity of non-compliance is dire as alluded to by Muperi when he appealed for public tip offs.
“We are appealing to you journalists and employees for tip offs, if there are employers you suspect of not remitting contributions to NSSA, our communication channels are always open.” Muperi said.
Moreover, the 94.5% huge informal sector (ZIMSTAT, 2015) is a major backdrop towards the attainment of the ILO minimum standards.
“The existence of a huge informal sector, which is not covered by social security, means that the country is still very far away from attaining these minimum standards,” Muperi added.
NSSA intends to co-opt the informal sector into social security,
“Without social security cover, workers in the informal sector are vulnerable to poverty in the event of life contingencies like old age, death, sickness, access to health care, employment injury, unemployment and invalidity. Extension of Social security coverage is inevitable,” he said.
NSSA allocates contributions for monthly pay-outs to beneficiaries in form of Retirement Pension/ Grant, Invalidity Pension/ Grant, Survivors Pension/ Grant, Children’s Allowance and Funeral Grant. Furthermore the reserve is allocated to investment portfolios including the state of the art NSSA Rehabilitation Centre in Bulawayo in addition to administrative costs.
Failure by stakeholders to remit dues result in slowed investment by the Authority in addition to more distress for beneficiaries when the need arise. NSSA envisage elevating its compliance rating beyond the 44% by 2020 through co-opting the huge informal sector.