Moving NAPSA From Scandals To Bally’s Promise While Some Are Not Working According To UPND Beliefs, Values And Promises/pledges To Introduce Napsa Reforms


By Shalala Oliver Sepiso

Last time, we looked at how poor workers’ monies have over the last few years been lavishly, extravagantly and selfishly used by NAPSA officials while the owners of the money are languishing in poverty and waiting to reach 55 years to access their money. We went through a few examples of deliberate poor investments by NAPSA over the last few years, especially in property development where there was no return on investment, and showed how investment can be done better. We further spoke about the need to change NAPSA from the money laundering conduit it has been where pensions’ money were being plundered in inflated infrastructure related investments to one that invests prudently and benefits the poor contributors.

We also spoke about how NAPSA needs to be more accountable and transparent in their investment portfolio management. To avoid repeating mistakes of the past, there is need for all investments of NAPSA to be looked at and audited and for all malpractices to be followed up by law enforcement agencies and perpetrators prosecuted. We need to see people arrested for the shoddy NAPSA investments that have defrauded workers for years. NAPSA, going forward needs to give, monthly updates on returns on the various investments into which public pensions money is ploughed to give the public the confidence that their monies are safe and are being used for the common good. We also talked about the need for NAPSA to be regulated by BOZ or another entity to avoid abuse of its resources.

Talking of failed, bad and fraudulent investments by NAPSA, we ended by saying we will tomorrow look at NAPSA’s investment in the the Mosi-oa-Tunya Livingstone Resort and how that investment shouldn’t have costed the workers more than 1.7 billion kwacha.

Today, let me address inertia in getting Bally’s promises delivered within NAPSA and around NAPSA.

Casual and critical observers will all remember that the UPND pledged to introduce various National Pensions Scheme Authority reforms.

The UPND, during campaigns and after forming government, stated that it was not beneficial for government, through NAPSA, to continue holding onto workers’ contributions until the legally prescribed retirement age. The argument advanced by the party and its leaders was that, with the low life expectancy in Zambia, it means most contributors are expected to have died well before they have an opportunity to receive their working life pensions packages. Bally saw the need for people to reinvest part of their contributions into businesses that can make their lives more bearable in this economy which hasn’t been kind on everyone, of late. Therefore, the UPND and His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema believe that, in a declining economy such as ours – where poverty, inequality and unemployment are rife – pensions should enable partial (percentage based) access to pension’s contributions after a determined period of actively contributing into the NAPSA pool by contributors.

Then UPND presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema, during campaigns, promised to reform pensions, including NAPSA, to stop this hoarding or holding onto workers’ contributions and introduce partial withdrawals. However, partial withdrawals remain a pipe-dream. What shocks many is how ZESCO, an entity sitting on huge debt and accused of having serious leakages of resources, managed to turn around fortunes within a year and resolved load shedding, while NAPSA, the biggest financial institution in Zambia is failing to implement partial withdrawals of pensions for contributors.

This failure can partly be traced to both Cabinet being slow in approving this change and hence not helping HH and the UPND to fulfil their promises on NAPSA and partly be traced to some members of the management of NAPSA that don’t want to change things but want to remain with what they have done over the last few years. But time is ticking and they are embarrassing President HH. A lot of work is being done to reform NAPSA and a lot of changes will be seen soon. But it is important that those driving NAPSA toe the same line and ensure that they deliver the promises made by HH and UPND.

On another note, the UPND promised to devise NAPSA-based unemployment benefits once a contributor is out of work and has been actively seeking employment for at least three (3) months.

The UPND’s manifesto also included plans to focus on leveraging NAPSA to deliver rent to own low – medium cost housing units which contributors may rent with a view to own. This, they posited, would go a long way towards alleviating the housing crisis among civil servants and young professionals.

On a positive note, on Thursday, while answering a question in Parliament, Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said that government was working on mechanisms to ensure that workers are able to get their pensions within 3 months of retiring from work. There are also indications that Cabinet is make progress on the partial withdrawals.

The UPND’s ultimate aim and vision is delivering pensions justice for thousands, if not millions, of working class people as one of the bold and huge step towards redressing the poverty and inequality traps that exist in this country.

The question is, are ministers, NAPSA senior managers and UPND party leaders aligned to make the needed changes that benefit the common workers and help HH reach his goals?

Or are they simply in it for themselves and want to benefit from a broken system inherited from the PF for their own selfish motives?

Stand up and be counted or you shall be exposed by posterity.


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