Felex Share Senior Reporter
Civil servants want direct representation on the board of the proposed National Social Security Authority building society which Government says will start operating in two months’ time.
They say that is the only way to safeguard their interests.
The civil servants said representation at board level would avoid a repeat of similar past schemes which ended up benefiting Government bigwigs instead of ordinary workers.
As part of Government’s non-monetary incentives for its workers, NSSA will establish a bank – the Social Security Building Society Bank of Zimbabwe – that will offer affordable housing loans to civil servants and low-income workers.
About $5 million is expected to be injected as seed capital for the bank, set to be operational by August this year, according to Labour and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumira.
Decent accommodation is one of Government’s top priorities in its economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said while they welcomed the initiative, it should cater specifically for civil servants and low-income earners who often struggle to access affordable housing loans.
As such, he said, the inclusion of workers on the board of the bank would ensure the loans reached intended beneficiaries.
“We wonder if it will not be another systematic way of siphoning resources and directing them elsewhere,” he said.
“We have seen some initiatives that have not been positive. Many such schemes in the past have been hijacked by the top brass while very few lower end workers benefited. No bigwigs should tamper with this scheme.”
Mr Ndlovu said the bank should be an empowerment vehicle to improve the welfare of the workers.
“Our fear is we have not seen the modalities of how this will be operated,” he said.
“If it is a bank aimed at the lower
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Govt workers want board seats on NSSA bank
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end of the civil service echelons, how are they going to be protected? That is why we need beneficiaries to participate in the governance of the funds.”
Of late civil servants have been struggling to acquire stands or houses due to exorbitant prices charged by private developers. Where they manage to get stands, they struggle to develop them due to lack of funding.
College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr David Dzatsunga said Government should put in place measures to prevent high-ranking officials from benefiting.
“Civil servants are the major contributors to NSSA,” he said. “It means they should be fully represented in the organs that will administer this money,” he said.
“That is the only way that the welfare of the workers can be improved. If this thing becomes successful, then we will know that Government is serious about improving our conditions of service.”
Said Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe: “Government should also guard against mismanagement. That is the reason why in the first place we were against the creation of this animal (bank).
“If there is no stakeholder involvement, we will go nowhere except enriching someone somewhere. We will also have directors and other senior officials as what happened in the Tynwald project. We went and saw the project, celebrated but go there now, there are only Government directors.”
Minister Mupfumira recently said a few regulatory issues were still outstanding before Government rolled out the scheme.
She said the building society would also support formalisation of the informal sector.