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NSSA is a vehicle for enriching the powerful whilst exploiting the poor!

15 Oct 2023 at 09:49hrs | Views
I already knew that Zimbabwe was hell and a living nightmare for the vast majority of the ordinary citizenry.

I was also fully aware that the powerful were the only ones getting richer and richer - whilst millions of Zimbabweans continued to sink deeper and deeper into poverty.

That has been the story of Zimbabwe for as long as the modern state, as we know it, has existed.

It is all about the exploitation of the many by the few.

In my own growing up, I have encountered my fair share of those who possessed no political and economic muscle being abused, mauled, and savaged by the more powerful.

This has practically been the story of my life.

In fact, that is what inspired and motivated me to start writing social justice articles - which were published in local Kwekwe newspapers - way back in 1989, whilst I was still a sixteen-year-old form three pupil.

By the time I reached the lower sixth from in 1991, I had my own regular column called, 'The Un-Oppressed Mind'.

I remember frequently speaking out against ESAP (Economic Structural Adjustment Program), introduced by the Zimbabwe government in 1990.

There was nothing more heart-rending, even to a mere teenager, than the sight of hundreds of workers - most particularly those who had been retrenched from the state-owned iron and steel-making giant ZiscoSteel - literally being thrown onto the streets.

The suffering of those hardworking men and women - who had been reduced into redundancy seemingly overnight, due to the company's restructuring exercise - was unbearable and unfathomable.

As much as they were awarded their retrenchment packages and other terminal benefits - however, most still found it extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible, to get back on their feet again.

Some decided to return to their rural homes, where they had to begin from scratch, eking out a living as subsistence communal farmers.

It was even worse for those whose roots were outside the country - as ZiscoSteel boasted of a sizeable immigrant  workforce, primarily from Malawi and Zambia - who had nowhere else to go.

The images of the suffering during that time still lives with me even to this day!

No one with an ounce of conscience can forget, let alone ignore, such unimaginable suffering and misery.

No wonder, regardless my young age, I decided to speak out and stand up for these people - even if that meant stepping on the toes of those in power - who had seen it fit to introduce such a cold-hearted and callous program.

There was absolutely nothing political about my stance - as is still the case today - but I was moved purely by a wish to see justice for all Zimbabweans.

I felt the same groaning, anguish, and troubling of the heart today.

I accompanied my dear mother to get her NSSA (National Social Security Authority) monthly payout - which she, as millions of other workers, had contributed towards during their employment years.

For years now, the amounts that these beneficiaries have been receiving from NSSA have been inadequate to sustain any semblance of a decent livelihood.

This is in spite of the government's repeated claims, at the onset of this social security scheme, that the fund would ensure our parents enjoyed a relatively comfortable and secure retirement.

Nonetheless, throughout the existence of this fund, beneficiaries - who are predominantly in the elderly age group - have never been able to make ends meet with the paltry amounts they are given each month.

If converted into US dollar terms, the average payout has previously been in the range of US$60 - only enough for a loaf of bread a day and one or two other items.  

It is as if these elderly men and women - who have given so much to this country through their hard work, sweat, and toil - no longer have any expenses to cater for in their lives.

They still have rentals to pay, medications (more essential in old age) to buy, utilities, and other expenses to meet.

Yet, this is far from being the worst of it all.

Today, as I was with my mother at one of the major supermarket chain stores, she picked a few groceries, which did not even fill up half a handheld shopping basket.

When we arrived at the tills, we were met with the shock of our lives!

After only three items - a two liter bottle of cooking oil, a loaf of bread, and one kilogram of brown sugar - her entire monthly NSSA payout was finished!

She, as many other beneficiaries, had received a pitiful ZW$48,000 - which is around US$7 at both the official and black market exchange rate.

Surely, when NSSA was depositing these pathetic amounts into our parents' bank accounts, what were they thinking?

Did they actually feel good about themselves - believing that they had done well in serving these elderly men and women who had spent decades contributing their hard-earned money to this scheme?

This is not to say NSSA does not have enough finances in their coffers to cater adequately for their beneficiaries.

They can not even hide behind the excuse a  bleeding economy in the country - which has been facing endless crises over the past two decades, including recurring bouts of hyperinflation.

No, not at all!

NSSA, in fact, is never very far from making news headlines for all the wrong reasons.

This is the same state institution, from which then social welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira was alleged to have been involved in corrupt activities to the tune of US$95 million.

In 2022, the NSSA executive board was accused of looting millions of dollars in hefty allowances and benefits.

The storm entangled its then general manager Arthur Manase, who is said to have received a US$750,000 housing loan and a monthly US$2,500 housing allowance to service the loan, despite the fact that he already owned a home.

Five luxury vehicles were also allocated to him.

Top executives also received loans ranging from US$60,000 to US$100,000 and top of the range latest Land Discovery vehicles after receiving loans.

As if this was not enough, the entire NSSA board took a luxurious vacation in Kenya, Mombasa, branded as a strategic training to improve services for pensioners.

Further to this, Manase was suspended partly due to a scandal over two top-of-the-range cars valued US$353,000, which he allegedly bought in violation of company policy.

The two cars were a Mercedes-AMG E53 (acquired for US$178,000) and a Land Rover Defender (for US$175,000).

Manase was suspended last year in July to pave the way for investigations into corporate governance failures, mismanagement, and corruption at NSSA.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there could be far much more shenanigans taking place of which the citizenry are not yet aware.

Nonetheless, the state-run institution possesses massive offshore investments - which include, in African Export-Import Bank that yielded US$3,18 million in dividend payments between 2017 and 2019.

NSSA invested US$20 million in the Pan-African financial institution at the end of 2017 as a strategy to preserve the balance sheet value.

The state social security fund controls between eight to 10% of market capitalization of the ZSE (Zimbabwe Stock Exchange) and the VFSE (Victoria Falls Stock Exchange).

NSSA owns 111 properties spread across the country - in shopping malls, land banks, hospitals, hotels, industrial space, and others.

NSSA's key investments include 91,6% stake in Rainbow Tourism Group, 66,22% shareholding in First Mutual Holdings, 35,15% stake in FBC Holdings, and 100% shareholding in National Building Society.

The pension fund also has a 20,64% stake in OK Zimbabwe, 18,17% in CBZ, 11,17% stake in Seed Co Limited, and 21,16% in ZimRe Holdings.

Other investments include a 6,56% stake in Seed Co International, 31,63% stake in StarAfricaCorporation, 19,99% in Chengetedzai Depository, 31,43% in Stalap, and 8,76% in Ariston.

In all this, can anyone surely claim that NSSA has no financial capacity to provide decent payouts to its legally-entitled beneficiaries?

I would have asked where the money from all these investments was going - but then, we all know the answer to that, don't we?

Yet, our parents are receiving US$7 a month!

All I can say that is: if people at NSSA are sleeping at night, then God be with you.

Otherwise, you are committing some of the most egregious, heinous, and cruel acts on humanity.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email:, or visit website:

Source - Tendai Ruben Mbofana
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