Banks ‘defy’ govt directive on pension payouts

Banks are reportedly defying a government directive to allow pensioners to withdraw their monthly allowances at once, Parliament has heard.

The cash withdrawal limit for the banking public is ZWL$5 000 per week but for pensioners, a provision was reportedly set aside to allow them to withdraw their money at once instead of going up and down to the bank.

This was confirmed by Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Clemence Chiduwa, who said the ‘waiver’ on cash withdrawals was done for the pensioners’ convenience.

“I think this is a specific question but in terms of the current position that I know with regards to the convenience that we have created for the pensioners, there is no limit on withdrawals. I submit,” Chiduwa said as a response to Zanu PF Proportional Representation MP, Goodluck Kwaramba who had asked what the government’s policy on pension withdrawal limits was.

Pressed to clarify the policy position on the matter by Kambuzuma MP, Willias Madzimure, the deputy minister repeated his sentiments that although ZWL$5 000 per week was the withdrawal limit for other banking customers, for pensioners there was none.

“When I submitted my response, I said this is a specific question. There is a policy that there is a limit of Z$5000 – but for pensioners, we say there is no limit,” he said.

However, queries were raised by MDC-T proportional representative MP Yvonne Musarurwa who asked if the government had plans to raise the maximum withdrawal limit for other citizens.

“When we ask about such issues, we are not only asking on behalf of pensioners but it should be for every Zimbabwean.  When he goes to check on what is happening, he should ask for the implementation to be for everyone.  Some people are not pensioners but are always ill and cannot even withdraw money to go to the hospital.  So, it should benefit everyone,” she said.

In response, the deputy finance minister said he had to verify “if there is a limit.”

“If there is a limit, then I think it is an issue of us speaking to the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe so that the limit can be taken up. The House can give me time to go and verify,” Chiduwa said.

“I did say that the $5000 limit is there but we were asked this question again here in Parliament and we liaised with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to remove the limit and also negotiated for dedicated tellers for the convenience of pensioners so they do not stand in long queues. So, I think this is just a question of implementation and I should go and check if what we agreed on is being implemented.”

Chiduwa stated pensioners should not stand in queues but be allowed to withdraw all their funds at once.

“That is why I asked your indulgence to go and verify and if there are any problems, I will come back and report to you,” said the deputy finance minister.

The Deputy Speaker advised the deputy finance minister to conduct investigations and come back with a Ministerial Statement to Parliament pertaining to maximum limits of amounts that are withdrawn by pensioners and the generality of the public.

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