AFTER working for 30 years at Ingwebu Breweries, Cephas Ndiweni walked away literally empty handed.
Ndiweni has nothing to show for all his efforts, despite having faithfully contributed to a monthly pension scheme, an investment he hoped would one day cushion him in old age.
“I have worked for Ingwebu for 30 years, but efforts to get my pension have been fruitless,” he said pensively.
“We are now left with questions without answers. We wonder if the issue of pensions still exists.”
The 58-year-old, who is now living in abject poverty after an insurance company failed to remit his pension, is just one out of thousands of people who have failed to access their pensions.
Another former employee at the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Annellia Matope, said her husband was employed as a security guard and retired in 2009.
“When you worked for NRZ you had a right to benefit from the house you occupied, but with my husband it was different,” she said.
“So we were promised money and that is the money we thought was going to take care of us, instead we are now living in a shack.
“The government seems to be quiet about our plight.”
What was supposed to be a peaceful hard-earned end to a working life has turned out to be a living nightmare for most pensioners, as insurance companies continue to cite one reason or the other for not honouring their commitment to pay out pensions.
Some of the supposed well-to-do pensioners have since migrated in search of greener pastures, but a good number of them are wallowing in poverty as they fail to access their investments.
Zimbabwe Pension and Insurance Rights Trust (Zimpirt) general manager Martin Tarusenga said setting up of a commission of enquiry by the Finance and Economic Development ministry had taken long.
“The setting-up of the commission of enquiry is taking too long and there is now anxiety as to when the minister would give us feedback,” he said.
“Most pensioners are living a destitute life and are not getting what they worked for.”
Tarusenga said efforts had been made to ensure pensioners were compensated.
“So many people have come to us and we have actually researched on the number of pensioners who are owed,” he said.
“We have investigated insurance companies and we are confident that the reports will be validated.
“We are confident that in the fullness of time, people will get their pensions, as this is really disappointing. Some people have died before getting what they worked for.”
Bulawayo City Council was reportedly contemplating pulling out of the Local Authorities’ Pension Fund (LAPF) citing delays in the disbursement of pensions by the scheme.
LAPF is reportedly owed in excess of $100 million by local authorities across the country, resulting in it failing to make pension payments.
A 70-year-old former council employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Southern Eye that she felt cheated out of her investment after contributing to the pension scheme for 30 years.
“My two sons, their wives and their children all rely on this pension because they cannot secure employment anywhere even though they are qualified,” she said.
“I feel so cheated because every month for the past 30 years, I contributed to a pension scheme believing I would be well taken care of.”
Zimpirt has since lobbied government to intervene on behalf of the pensioners.
In May 2012, they took the matter up with the then Finance minister Tendai Biti and called for the revamping of current pension and insurance legislation, for a complete reorganisation of the regulatory and management framework of pension and insurance service provision in Zimbabwe.
In 2013, Zimpirt wrote to the current Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa apprising him of the situation and seeking his intervention on behalf of people like Ndiweni to prevent further pension rip-offs.