The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has closed accounts for widows and widowers, in a move the organisation says is meant to weed out ghost pensioners.
The move has however triggered an outcry as it affected genuine beneficiaries who say they could not register on time due to travel restrictions in the prevailing coronavirus environment.
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In an interview with NewsDay on Sunday, Masvingo Pensioners Forum co-ordinator Charles Gonzi described the move as inconsiderate. He said:
NSSA closed accounts for those with deceased husbands and wives who could not register on time.
We were told we needed to bring our children regardless of where we are coming from. In this COVID-19 pandemic, movement is very difficult. How are people supposed to travel in this environment?.
Gonzi said NSSA should have reached out to pensioners first before making the move. He added:
How are we supposed to register, they did not consider the inconveniences of travelling at such a time. NSSA should do outreach programmes so that everyone registers.
They just closed the accounts and said none will get money.
Contacted, NSSA deputy director of marketing Tendai Mutseyekwa said they carried out an outreach programme to register pensioners. Said Mutseyekwa:
We carried a programme between April and June. The life certificate renewal exercise was published everywhere, including on radios. We set up offices everywhere in the country and we reached pensioners everywhere in the country.
The need to renew these certificates is to close ghost beneficiaries. We are trying to protect NSSA funds and the pensioners as well.
Mutseyekwa said they need proof in order for them to renew those certificates.
Pensioners in the country have been living like destitutes due to unsustainable payouts amid the economic crisis.