Samantha Chigogo Harare Bureau
MORE than 40,000 pensioners failed to receive their April payouts this week after the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) de-registered them for failing to submit life certificates. Hundreds of pensioners thronged NSSA offices yesterday demanding an explanation for the non-payment of their dues.
This comes after the authority issued several warnings since October last year urging pensioners to submit a NSSA Life Certificate together with a photocopy of their national identity card.
In an interview yesterday, NSSA acting general manager Henry Chikova said submitting life certificates was a prerequisite for all pensioners to avoid suspension of pension payment.
“Every year we require our pensioners to submit life certificates and these are proof that the pension holder is still alive,” said Chikova.
“We issue them these life certificates from the third quarter of every year, that’s from October last year to March this year. We then invite them at the end of March to ensure they verify with us on the validity of their pensions.”
Chikova said 40,000 pensioners had failed to receive their payments because they had not complied with requirements.
“For those who didn’t submit their life certificates by March, we’ve suspended their pensions. The suspensions are an exercise to make our pensioners comply with our directive to fill in and submit their life certificates,” he said.
“Of the 180,000 that we cater for, 40,000 of these people were affected by our exercise and we continuously call on all pensioners who haven’t visited our offices to come forward and fill in life certificate forms that will enable us to acknowledge their entitlement to the pensions fund.”
Chikova added: “Those who haven’t presented to NSSA a completed life certificate will be presumed dead or no longer entitled to a pension. We made them come and enquire with us so that we give them the papers to fill in to reactivate their pensions.”
He, however, said all bonafide pensioners would be recalled next month.
“We’ve been flighting advertisements in the Press, television and radio inviting all pensioners to come forward and submit their life certificates to avoid such inconveniences,” Chikova said.
“However, all those who were affected by these suspensions will get their money next month if they manage to submit their certificates.”
Chikova rubbished reports that the government was struggling to pay pensioners.
“The money for pensioner’s payments is available. This exercise is a precautionary measure that we take yearly to ensure that our pensioners remain up-to-date,” he said.
“We want to avoid a situation where we end up paying ghost pensioners. Their payments are there and once they do what’s required of them, they’ll be reinstated in May.”
Chikova urged the general public with relatives or friends on the pension scheme to sensitise them on the importance of submitting the NSSA life certificates. “So if you’re a pensioner and haven’t submitted a life certificate to NSSA since last October, you need to do so now in order to ensure you’re reinstated for the pension you failed to receive this month,” he said.
“If you aren’t a pensioner, but know somebody who does receive a pension from NSSA, do them a favour by asking them if they’ve handed in a completed life certificate to NSSA.”
Periodically, NSSA faces challenges with pensioners’ non-compliance issues that result in the suspension of their payout. Most pension funds require pensioners, particularly retired pensioners, to periodically complete and return a certificate confirming that they are still alive.