Old Mutual accused of corporate malfeasance

By Byron Mutingwende


A Harare-based man, Cleophas Muyangwa is bitter with Old Mutual Life Assurance over his pension policies. In a letter written to Jonasi Mushosho, the Old Mutual Group Chief Executive Officer and copied to Finance Minister Patrick Chinamsa and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira on 4 May 2017, Muyangwa said the insurer’s poor corporate governance and ethics irked him.


“Please be advised that it is unlawful and criminal not to afford me my right to enquire about my investment with due respect to the official Maturity dates of 2018 and 2019 respectively. My policies officially qualify for Pension and Other Benefits on disbursement according to my contract as a Policy Holder and Member and the Authentic Beneficiary. With due respect to those five policies with my investment policy over the years notwithstanding any excuses that have bedevilled the country and nation at large, I am obliged to know the status of those policies,” Muyangwa said.


He urged Old Mutual to urgently respond to his enquiries as demanded by Professional Ethics and Corporate Governance Policy of 2014. Despite the demand, he is not getting any positive response about his policies and their status upon maturity.


The norm is that one should apply for his/her disbursement of policy benefits in advance as per global insurance best practice. This is done by Old Mutual South Africa and Kenya for example.


Muyangwa started working in 1972 at Cairns Foods Private Limited as a receiving clerk and left for greener the green pastures in 1987 but he had risen to the position of data processing supervisor within that institution. Thus he began contributing monthly premiums under Cairns Foods Pension Scheme that was administered by Old Mutual. As the norm, he did not apply for his portion of pension contributions plus interest because he was going to continue the scheme with the new employer.


In 1988, he joined Distribution and Marketing Services (DMS) Private Limited as a Sales Representative, which had a similar scheme with Old Mutual where he was already a member. However, he acquired a new membership with DMS. During his tenure at DMS, he took three more new policies with Old Mutual namely Retirement Annuity, Dollar Plan and Own Pension Scheme. He worked at DMS until 2002.


DMS changed its name to Speed-line Marketing Services in 1995. The then Speed-line Managing Director Yunus Bhura wrote a letter to Old Mutual advising them that Muyangwa was going to continue paying for his policies alone. Muyangwa then gave instruction to Zimbank to continue paying his policies through his bank account until the account was exhausted by dollarisation. At one stage, Old Mutual gave him a rebate of over-payment towards those policies.


“There is no reason for Old Mutual to state that one of my policies lapsed during dollarisation. Around 2011, Old Mutual ran an advert in the press stating that some policyholders were sitting on a fortune on their policies of which they could apply for personal benefits. Forms were available at one of their branches for one to apply for those benefits,” Muyangwa said.


In 2012, Muyangwa applied for his benefits in terms of interest accrued over the period he had contributed towards those policies. Old Mutual in response paid one of the policies a paltry $100 and the other one $185 and ascertained that that was his final payment as pension and other benefits towards the two personal pension policies. Muyangwa refuted the fact that his retirement age according to the policy documents was 65 years, not 59 years when those benefits were applied for, contrary to the policy documents maturity dates.


He demanded the reinstatement of the two policies without any variation or prejudice because they were not conforming to the agreed contract on the policy documents.


Efforts to get in touch with Mushosho were futile as his mobile number was not available. However, Muyangwa is still insisting on getting a feedback on the status of his inquiries.