Legislators blast Zim govt for paying pensioners US$5 per month
Members of Parliament have slammed the government for disrespecting pensioners citing that most of them were earning in the volatile Zimbabwean dollar an equivalent of US$5 per month.
Zanu-PF Bindura South legislator Remigious Matangira raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday claiming pensioners were getting poor salaries equivalent to US$5.
“Today at the Post Office, it was just like they are tanked cattle. It was an eyesore seeing people crowded at the bank. All those elderly we are seeing are getting USD5 per month. Are we serious that someone is getting USD5 per month? Cooking oil on its own is USD6 without sugar. Some of them stay in the rural areas and they get on an omnibus to get USD5.
“They are waiting for the money to accumulate for three months so that they get USD15. Let us look at ourselves how much we have gone by killing ourselves. If we kill this foundation, that of people we are giving birth to, what will happen to them and who will look after them and guide them? It is those in Parliament who would have failed to implement and see to it that there is normalcy.
“It is my plea that if possible, let there be a review for our pensioners. Let us do this in good faith. All the pensioners in this country – I also worked at National Railways of Zimbabwe, you cannot even get in a bank and get that money – what will I use it for? Even tomorrow, we will be pensioners and then we get USD5 or USD15. It means that we were doing nothing by coming here to the Parliament of Zimbabwe. The little that we get, we try to use it to persuade the electorate to vote for us. There is no business for you and in 2023, you lose out and there is nothing for you. What then will happen to you?
“I saw an elderly woman crying. This affects everyone across the board. War veterans are crying and everyone is affected. Let us consider this situation and give people money that has value and money that can assist them in their lives,” he said.
The matter was reinforced by Umzingwane Constituency Member of Parliament Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome.
“The money that is being given to our pensioners is very little. Most of them lost a lot of money due to inflation and the money ended up being useless. Even the money for insurance ended up without any value and the money that they had set aside for their residential areas ended up losing its value.
“My plea is that they get rebates and other incentives, the exemption on tollgates and also have incentives for water, rates and electricity may be the Government can assist. These are our parents. We are also going to grow old and no one will remain in his youthful age.
“It is so painful that when you are old and weak, you will be treated in such a manner,” he said.
MDC Alliance legislator David Tekeshe said pensioners were not getting enough because of the currency crisis. This comes at a time when the local currency is continually falling against the US dollar.
“My only issue is that we are crying about the pensioners. Pensioners are not getting anything because of the instability of the currency. I think the Minister should consider putting US dollars in pension houses so as to cushion the pensioners until things stabilise and also consider pegging their pensions in US dollars,” he said.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube, however, responded dismissing claims that pensioners were getting US$5.
“Hon. Matangira raised the issue of pension payments at US$5 – I do not know about this. At the moment, the Government is paying US$50 hard cash and not US$5. In addition to that, the pensioner is getting the ZWL component as well.
“Perhaps this is NSSA payment but even then, NSSA has been indexing their payments. This is something that needs to be investigated but I am not so sure about these low figures coming out.
“I will engage him one-on-one so that I understand the issue but also engage the Minister of Social Welfare just in case it is a NSSA issue. I thought the payments were above the US$5 that he mentioned,” Ncube said.