Home » Governance » Lethargy Shatters Pensioners’ Dreams

In the wake of the recent Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Monetary Policy Statement dubbed “Rebalancing the economy through competitiveness and compliance”, the troubles caused by uncompetitiveness and low productivity in both Government and private sector, that pensioners and other members of pension funds are going through in securing their full rightful benefits are revealing.

Pensioners of a major insurance company in Zimbabwe, have for instance had trouble getting the High Court deliberate on their claims for outstanding bonuses due on their matured funds, for the past 12 years. The funds matured back in 2003 when the insurance company paid only the typically lower conservative bonus (interim bonus rate) for claims arising over an accounting year, prior to the actual investment return (bonus rate) achieved by pension funds over the year is known and declared.

In 2006 the Mashonaland Magistrates’ Court ruled essentially that the insurance company pay the outstanding bonuses after a higher actual bonus was declared for the year, by the insurance company.

The insurance company appealed against the judgment. Of course, the case would have to wait for its turn in the long waiting list at poorly serviced High Court system in Zimbabwe.

When in early 2013 (after a difficult six years for the pensioners), legal counsel for the pensioners inquired when the case would be heard in the High Court, it turned out that the insurance company had not fulfilled all the requirements of appeal procedure, leading to the return of the appeal to the Clerk of Court at the magistrates’ court level, for relodging.

In the event, the attempt to relodge the appeal would not even begin as it was later established in early 2014 that the case file at the Clerk of Court “was lost”.

To be sure the Clerk of Court manages files for the magistrates’ courts, while the Registrar of the High Court manages those for the High Court. When an appeal is made against a judgment in the junior magistrates’ court, the appellant is required to make a note of appeal to be lodged with the Registrar. The appellant are further required to a security deposit and an administration fee, respectively around $50 and $100.

The security deposit is meant to secure against appellant default in the event judgment is upheld in the High Court, especially considering that the lower court has already ruled against appellant. The administration fees covers costs of creating the new appeal records and for notifying relevant parties.

Much to the continued prejudice of these pensioners, the Clerk of Court has not at the time of writing identified the file. Apparently several such cases of missing files have been reported.

In the context of the RBZ Governor’s MPS, it is apparent for this pensioner case that there are several instances of uncompetitiveness and low productivity identifiable at the High Court system of justice delivery, at the level of the Clerk of Court, at the level of the Registrar and perhaps at the level of legal counsel for the pensioners.

“Uncompetitiveness” is here loosely defined as delivery of goods and services way below established production standards for such goodsservices, where the incumbent goodsservices would not be purchased y the consumer if there were other competitive suppliers or service providers.

“Productivity” is, on the other hand, defined loosely to the quantity of goodsservices produced for a unit (or dollar) of capital injected in the incumbent production system.

At the High Court level of justice delivery to these pensioners, a waiting period of eight years for the pensioners to get the relevant judgment on their bonuses, is no doubt way below standard compared to society expected and agreed turnaround times for such cases.

These pensioners and society in general would certainly not choose the supplier of incumbent High Courts – this supplier being a sitting Government. It further apparent Zimbabwe High Court productivity is very considering that it take more than eight years to deliberate on the case of these pensioners, while in the mean time offers of the Registrar, judges, among others get paid for this long turnaround.

At the Clerk of Court level uncompetitiveness is glaring and outrageous if it is considered a file can actually be lost and be reported casually as such – not once but in several instances. Heads would roll in a bid to introduce efficiency and accountability in competitive such offices or institutions.

Of course, productivity is very considering that the Clerk of Court has to carry out several re-dos of such lost files, while the officer get paid for such failures. Turning to legal counsel, it is striking that they are apparently content or acquiescent with these failures inhibiting their clients from getting justice. Legal counsel could surely do more to get justice for their pensioner clients.

Uncompetitiveness and low productivity hampering competitive pension and insurance service provision is not just limited to that in the justice system as discussed above – these pensioners had apparently appealed to the Insurance and Pension Commission, the regulator pensioninsurance industries. As in many other cases reported to pensioner organisations against principal officers of pension funds, against boards of trustees of pension funds and insurance companies, IPEC did absolutely nothing – thereby abundant evidence of lack of competitiveness and low productivity.

In an illustration of this lack of competitiveness and low productivity, at IPEC and in other economic sectors of Zimbabwe, this paper published the article “Competitiveness key to return of Zim dollar return” in September 2012.

Thank heavens, a commission of inquiry is pending to resolve the pensioner problems – only it is taking a year for the Finance Minister to set up! With terms of reference for the commission and candidate commissioners in place does it really need a year for the minister to have this commission set up, or is it another of “uncompetitiveness and low productivity” that the MPS referred to? Does anyone in Zimbabwe work to deliver and make anyone happy, in keeping with “Customer is King”?

It is clear from the few examples proffered above that there is a culture in Zimbabwe of wanting to get paid for doing nothing that is permitted by a lack of Government policies serving to instil standards and targets, and accountability, in general work ethics.

An apparent Government unwillingness to set up such policies appears to be perpetuating the uncompetitiveness and low productivity that the RBZ Governor seeks to eradicate.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not represent those of the organisations that the author represent.

Martin Tarusenga is General Manager of Zimbabwe Pensions amp Insurance Rights, email, martin@zimpirt.com telephone +263 (0)4 883057 Mobile +263 (0)772 889 716

Source : The Herald