Doctors’ cartels loot NSSA

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
An unconfirmed number of medical doctors from Matabeleland North Province face prosecution for fraudulently issuing claims to undeserving National Social Security Authority (NSSA) beneficiaries prejudicing the authority of millions of dollars.

The doctors were allegedly working in cahoots with NSSA employees that were syphoning money from the authority.

In this light, NSSA has commenced the process of renewal of life certificates for pensioners in a bid to curb corruption that was rocking the authority.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Professor Paul Mavima said this while addressing NSSA pensioners’ representative’s during an engagement forum held in Gweru yesterday.

While he could not immediately give the number of doctors involved as investigations are in progress, Prof Mavima said the health practitioners were facing prosecution.

He said NSSA employees implicated in syphoning NSSA funds have since been suspended.

“There are disturbing cases of fraudsters who are attempting to submit illegitimate and undeserving claims when they have not contributed to the fund. There are doctors in Matabeleland North Province working in cahoots with NSSA employees who were nabbed for presenting illegitimate claims for undeserving clients. They were syphoning money from NSSA and they are facing prosecution. NSSA employees have been suspended pending disciplinary action,” he said.

Prof Mavima applauded the NSSA management for enforcing systems that assist in curbing such criminal actions.

“The current exercise to renew life certificates for pensioners is meant to ensure that benefits are paid out to deserving cases only. I implore on you, as pensioner representatives, to encourage your colleagues to renew their certificates by 30 June 2021 so that they can continue to receive their pay-outs,” he said.

He said NSSA has embarked on a transformational journey guided by the principles of transparency, accountability and honesty.

“It is the Government’s desire that social protection measures are put in place to mitigate against challenges that are associated with loss of income due to various reasons that include old age leading to retirement,” he said.

Prof Mavima said Zimbabwe is among African nations committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, hence social protection is a priority issue.

The SDG Target 13, he said, focuses on implementing nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all. In that regard, NSSA has been tasked to address the issue of benefits for the pensioners.

“The NDS 1 highlights social protection as one of the focus areas that the Government is pursing for the vulnerable members of the society.

To avert and reduce poverty, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also recommends on sustainable rights based and equitable solutions for extending social protection including access to healthcare,” he said.

Prof Mavima said the NSSA board, upon the advice of an actuary, this month approved a 100 percent increase in benefits payments across the board, subject to a minimum retirement pension of US$25, up from US$12 paid at the prevailing auction rate.

“This was done bearing in mind the need to maintain the long-term sustainability of the fund. It is projected that the minimum retirement pension will increase to US$30 in July, US$40 in October, and closing the year 2021 at US$60 paid at the prevailing auction rate,” he said.

“In stepping up efforts to cushion our pensioners, NSSA is paying out groceries’ allowances. To date orphans, children and the invalid have received these allowances in addition to their monthly disbursements for March. Surviving spouses will receive their grocery allowances in May and retirees will get theirs in June.”

Prof Mavima said the NSSA mobile clinic is in the southern region, providing free medical checks and attention to pensioners.

“At the end of this current exercise, it would have spent 44 days in the region, covering Zvishavane, Gwanda and Bulawayo. The Authority is also exploring other ways to ease the welfare of pensioners through non-monetary benefits such as waivers of bank charges, discounts when purchasing goods at participating shops, the setting up of a revolving fund for retirees and pensioners as well as assisting with medical care mainly through the NSSA mobile clinic and clinics that will be set up in all regions.

“Pensioners are also set to benefit from empowerment projects such as goat farming out grower schemes to enable generation of extra income,” he said.

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