Opposition MDC led by advocate Nelson Chamisa has said that the corruption scandal at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) is enough justification for the complete overhaul of the national pension system. We present below the full text as it was posted on the party’s Facebook page.
NSSA rot exposes need for overhaul of national pension system
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has learnt with utter shock and dismay the contents of the recently released Auditor’s report which reveals that through the then Minister of Public Service Labor and Social Welfare and her associates, the organization suffered a potential financial prejudice amounting to $167,713, 756.00 and actual financial prejudice of $7,536,375.00.
Indicated in the same report is the criminal conduct of NSSA employees working in cahoots with the Minister where the former awarded the MetBank facilities that were not merited leading to a huge exposure of $62,003,96.00. The corruption within NSSA might look like mere figures, but quite sadly they have far reaching socio-economic implications on the livelihoods of pensioners. At the center of the effects of the NSSA scandal is the failure by the institution to honor its obligations on pensions. After decades of hard work and deductions, retirees become paupers due to the avarice of corrupt politicians who seek to profit at the expense of the impoverished workers.
The criminals must not go unpunished but beyond the punitive measures that we expect to be taken against those who have been caught with their fingers in the pie, the MDC proposes systemic and structural reforms of the public pension fund. We acknowledge that pushing for NSSA reform in the absence of political stability and under the current illegitimate administration is a tall order.
We also acknowledge that progress on pension fund governance builds on the level of governance in the whole economy which is currently in tatters. Nonetheless, guided by our conscience and core values of justice and fairness, we are taking it upon ourselves to stand in defense of the vulnerable pensioner; hence in the short term, the MDC through its parliamentary deployees will push for a
Pension Reform Act that will necessitate the creation of a Pension Reform Taskforce which seeks to:
1.Guarantee the provision of adequate and viable retirement income to all NSSA contributors
2.Protect the vulnerable against livelihoods risk due to corruption and undue political interference
3.Improve the hygiene and governance practice of the organization especially ensuring that the responsible Minister and Treasury must not have disproportionate power over the Pension Fund.
4.To ensure that there must be a clear separation between the investment arm of NSSA and the wing that deals with the administration of pensions.
5. Internal and external governance mechanisms and investment controls must be put in place in order to isolate pension reserve funds effectively from undue political influence.
The Act must empower the Pension Reform Taskforce to embark on a robust reform of NSSA exercise that will cure the current problems such as the fact that the pension fund is not shielded from political pressure, investment policies do not respect guidance regarding risk exposure and accountability to members is weak. The mechanism for minimizing corruption and fraudulent activities within NSAA must focus on:
1. Governance practices of the organization to ensure transparency, establish systems for mitigating conflict of interest and accountability of each function and roles. Members must have representation within the governance structure with strong mandate
2. Accountability must see the effective benchmarking of operations and performance of the organization. The civil servants have the right to know.
3.Fund Management, this must be in the custody of competent and qualified professionals with their only objective being to serve
The MDC also proffers the following suggestions which will help combat corruption in a future centralized retirement fund.
(i) Introduction of criminal sanctions for all corruption related offenses especially for public officials
(ii) Provision of and setting up special criminal courts to deal with corruption and economic crimes.
(iii) The right and mechanism for a direct recall of elected officials by the electorate.
(iv) Mandatory declaration of assets for public officials.
(v) Establishing, strengthening and institutionalizing the National Economic Crimes Inspectorate (NECI).
(vi) Regular State sanctioned life-style audits.
(vii) Limited Terms of office for all senior public executives including heads of State enterprises and parastatals.
(viii) Strengthening transparency mechanisms on State procurement including the introduction of public bidding on major public tenders.
(ix) Increased access to information for citizens including publication of terms and conditions of public and public- guaranteed contracts.
(x) Strengthened oversight role for parliament in all public enterprise.
(xi) Strengthened oversight role for the Civic Society and the Media.
The MDC is committed to an efficient, corruption-free civil service whose primary objective is to serve the citizen.
Secretary for Public Service and Social Welfare
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