Farirai Machivenyika, Harare Bureau
The National Social Security Authority’s much-awaited pension and health insurance schemes for the informal sector have been established, with paid up beneficiaries being entitled to retirement pension, survivor’s pension, funeral grants and health insurance coverage.
The three voluntary schemes — Informal Sector, Health Insurance and Maternity Protection — will also include retirement grant, survivor’s grant, invalidity pension, invalidity grant and maternity cover as benefits.
The schemes will come as a boost to most informal sector workers and self-employed actors who had no access to facilities from the mainstream insurance companies that require consistent income for one to acquire services.
This is despite the fact that the majority of working Zimbabweans are in the informal sector.
NSSA’s establishment of the new schemes was published in Statutory Instrument 50 of 2018 in last Friday’s Government Gazette.
A Voluntary Informal Sector Board and Committee which includes NSSA’s general manager, the Statutory Instrument explained, will be established to run the schemes.
“The Board shall establish a Committee to be known as the Voluntary Informal Sector Committee which shall administer the schemes,” reads part of SI 50.
“The Committee shall consist of not less than seven and not more than nine members appointed by the Board from time to time.”
The schemes will be open to Zimbabwean citizens between 16 and 65 years.
“Every contributor shall register as a member of the Schemes by completing Form IS for Informal Sector, HI for Health Insurance or MP for Maternity Protection,” reads the notice.
The Minister of Public Service and Social Welfare will fix the rate of contributions from time to time.
Members will be able to access benefits from the Informal Sector scheme upon three months’ contributions.
Payment of retirement benefits will be made upon reaching 65 years, while an invalidity pension will be available for those unable to continue to work.
“A contributor who has not attained the age of 65 years and whom the general manager considers to be permanently incapable of work as a result of any disease or bodily or mental disablement and in respect of whom contributions accumulated and is able to purchase a minimum pension or such other as may be prescribed by the general manager from time to time and shall be entitled to a periodical payment of an invalidity pension.
“. . .where the condition has not changed and the beneficiary is below the age of 65 years, the invalidity pension shall be terminated and a lump sum equivalent to three months pension shall be paid.”
Surviving spouses and dependant children will be entitled to the pension benefits of a deceased member.
“Where, at the time of his or her death, a deceased contributor was in receipt of an invalidity pension or a retirement pension or would, but for his or her death, has satisfied the conditions set out in Section 23(1), a survivor’s pension shall be payable to the widow or widower of the deceased,” reads the Statutory Instrument. “Or where there are any dependant children, the widow or widower of the deceased and any dependant children concurrently or where there are no dependant children, any biological parent of the deceased; or where there is no biological parent, any other dependant to the deceased.”
The Health Insurance scheme will include access to rural health centres, municipal clinics, general practitioners, ambulance and emergency services, as well as hospitalisation in government, municipal and mission institutions.
Other benefits include dental cover, physiotherapy, psychiatric services and access to drugs from any pharmacy.
The contributions will cover up to five beneficiaries and will include disabled children.
The Maternity Protection scheme will include prenatal and postnatal care and any prescribed medication.
“The cash benefit paid during maternity leave shall be at least two-thirds of a female member’s previous earnings or a comparable amount if other methods are used to determine cash benefits, for a minimum period of 14 weeks,” the notice reads.
Contributors will be given identity cards for the schemes.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has floated a tender seeking for the installation of an Internet based employment and retrenchees system.
The system will be known as the Web-Based Employment Seeker and Retrenchees Information System.
“The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is inviting tenders from reputable system developers to supply and install a Web-based Employment Seeker and Retrenchees Information System,” reads the statement.
The tender was published under General Notice 185 of 2018 with applicants expected to submit their bids by April 30.
A Web-based employment application software offers savings to both businesses and job seekers.
Businesses save the cost of paper applications while potential employees do not need to pay to print out CVs or mail in the application.
Government has identified the use of ICTs as a major driver in improving business conditions in the country, with ministries and other Government departments expected to incorporate e-governance as part of their operations.