Restructuring paying off: NSSA
THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA) says it has begun to realise the dividends after undertaking a series of reforms since 2015.
The reforms include a restructuring exercise, cost management measures and closer monitoring.
“These gains notwithstanding, there is still much to be done going forward if the ‘new’ NSSA that the board has espoused is to fulfil its mandate and new dispensation,” NSSA board chairperson Robin Vela said.
He said the slogan, NSSA “By Choice, Not By Statute”, was adopted by the board and management to guide all decisions and actions as well as strengthening service excellence going forward.
“It is my firm belief that we are on course to achieving that and the ultimate goal, which is to pay a living pension and to provide coverage to all citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Vela said over the last three months they have had to take tough decisions, some unpopular that have drawn unwarranted criticisms, but all intended to restore public trust and confidence, protect public funds, enhance investment returns, all for the good of their members.
The restructuring exercise, he said, saw a reduction in the staff head count by 120.
“It is part of an ongoing process that will achieve the dual objectives of reducing staff costs and improving service delivery,” he said.
Vela said elsewhere in Africa, other similar social security organisations were managing at least four or more schemes, but with far less employees than what NSSA, with only two schemes, currently employs.
Further reductions in staff-related expenses have been achieved through rationalisation of benefits, he said.
Vela said the recruitment of eight middle managers, which seeks to introduce the correct skills at this level, is well underway.
NSSA, whose investment portfolio includes money market, property, short- and long-term investments in associates and subsidiaries among others, has lost millions as a result of poor investment decisions.
It lost $50 million when it tried to rescue the then ReNaissance Merchant Bank.
The bank, which was rebranded to Capital Bank, surrendered its banking licence in 2013 after the authority said it could not continue pumping money into the struggling entity.
NSSA also lost about $16 million in other banks that have been shut down. It had $15 million deposited with Interfin Banking Corporation, which closed in 2012 after gross abuse of depositors’ funds was unearthed.
NSSA had more than $750 000 in Genesis Bank, which collapsed in 2012.
Yet retired workers were getting a meagre $60 in pension payouts. But the government recently instructed it to review payouts gradually to $150 by the end of the first half.
In a bid to revive the entity, NSSA board members in 2015 embarked on a restructuring exercise which saw the axing of five executives including general manager James Matiza.