Biti pushes for compensation of pensioners

Former Finance and Economic Development Minister in the inclusive government, Tendai Biti has called for the compensation of citizens who lost their pension savings during years of hyperinflation and the country suspended the use of the local currency in 2009.

While the government had in the past promised to compensate citizens for their losses it is still yet to honour its promise.

Raising a point of national importance in the National Assembly Tuesday, Biti who is also Harare East legislator challenged the government to act on the issue which he said was long overdue.

“My point of national interest relates to pensions,” said Biti.

“As you know, in March of 2007, the Justice Smith Commission of Inquiry into the conversion of people’s pension funds presented its report. That report made several recommendations after finding that Zimbabweans had lost pensions to the total value of USD5.86 billion as a result of a weak regulatory

framework by IPEC, the Insurance Pension Commission of Zimbabwe, the scandalous and greedy behaviour of insurance houses and terrible macro-economic environment, including inflation that had risen to 500 billion percent.”

He explained further: “So effectively, Justice Smith recommended that there be compensation for pensioners, teachers, headmasters and workers who had worked from 1980 and served through their pensions but their pensions were wiped out. Six/Seven years later, those recommendations have not been put into practice.

Biti said those who lost their savings as a result of dollarisation should be compensated as well.

“There is also a second group of pensioners,” he said.

“These are people who saved their money from 2009 when the economy had dollarized, pay their pensions in USD, but suddenly after February of 2019, with the enactment of Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019, greedy pension houses like Old Mutual and First Mutual are now paying those pensioners in paltry ZW$.”

He added: “So, I make the point that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development must, as a matter of urgency, come up with a law that puts into effect the Justice Smith Commission of Inquiry recommendations and secondly, that same law must deal with the pensioners who have lost their USD savings, those who started making pension contributions from 2009 in USD including Honourable Members of this august House. “

National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Tsitsi Gezi in her response, said: “You have raised a very important issue but I encourage you to bring a motion to this House concerning that issue so that Hon. Members will debate and adopt the motion.”

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