HARARE – The cash-strapped government has for the umpteenth time failed to meet its statutory obligations after it could not raise funds to pay its pensioners who include war veterans.
War veterans and other pensioners, the majority of whom get a maximum monthly pay-out of $60, went to their banks on Monday hoping to withdraw their money only to discover that nothing had been deposited into their accounts.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary-general, Victor Matemadanda told the Daily News that government had not given prior notice to the freedom fighters that their pay dates had been moved.
“While we appreciate that government is facing financial challenges, we are not happy that we only got to know that our pay dates had been moved to the 12th after many of us had travelled long distances hoping to get money in our banks,” Matemadanda said.
He urged government to be sensitive to the plight of pensioners whom he said had no one to represent by way of a union.
“What we are particularly unhappy about is the fact that government did not inform us that they were unable to pay us. War veterans had borrowed money to travel and they will need to take something from their meagre pay-out to pay back and that is not fair.
“Somebody slept on duty because we should have been informed in time. We are pensioners and there is no one to represent us hence we expect government to be sensitive,” a livid Matemadanda added.
On her part, Labour and Social Services minister Prisca Mupfumira said government would ensure a speedy resolution of the problem.
“I will check with the Salary Service Bureau and the ministry of Finance to ascertain the problem. I think it is just a minor hitch that will be resolved in three or four days,” Mupfumira said.
Over the past months, government has been pushing the pay dates for pensioners back; a development that has seen them setting camp at the National Social Security Authority offices in recent weeks.
The situation has now since reached a point where the delayed payments are now interfering with fresh salary dates not only for the pensioners but also for civil servants.
Teachers’ bonuses that government had promised to pay last month were only paid early this month after the country’s educators had threatened to go on strike when schools opened for the second term.
And with the current cash crisis, the majority of the pensioners — the majority of whom travel from remote areas of the country — have been sleeping in queues at banks, in the hope that the money would be Observers say the situation could be worse going into the last quarter of the year as several firms that pay taxes to the government close shop because of the unfavourable economic conditions.