Social security for unemployed, SMES on cards

The GOVERNMENT is preparing to launch two ground-breaking programmes to broaden social security coverage through providing comprehensive financial security for the unemployed and those working in the informal sector.

The Sunday Mail has gathered that plans are underway to roll out the National Unemployment Benefit Scheme to protect workers against the impact of sudden job losses, while a separate scheme to provide pension coverage to informal sector workers is set to be launched soon.

The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) was recently tasked with crafting a concept paper to assess the feasibility of setting up the National Unemployment Benefit Scheme.

It is envisaged that workers and employers will contribute towards the proposed scheme.

Pooled funds would subsequently be used to provide income for those forced out of work by unforeseen circumstances.

Under the scheme, beneficiaries will only receive payouts for a specified period while they search for new employment opportunities.

Separately, NSSA is finalising setting up a scheme to provide pension coverage for Zimbabweans working in the informal sector.

Under the scheme, people who are not formally employed would make voluntary contributions to NSSA to get benefits upon reaching the public sector retirement age of 60.

In the case of death, surviving spouses and close relatives could also benefit.

The new scheme is expected to tap into the massive number of Zimbabweans working in the informal sector.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Simon Masanga told The Sunday Mail that NSSA was finalising the concept paper that will inform the establishment of the National Unemployment Benefit Scheme.

“We are still at the formative stages and NSSA is contributing to the concept papers that will inform the scheme,” he said.

“This process will help us to look at the options … if we have adequate funds for the scheme and the contributions set to be made.

“From that, we are going to make recommendations. So, at the moment, the matter is still with NSSA.”

NSSA chief executive officer Mr Charles Shava confirmed the development, saying the scheme was likely to be administered by Treasury.

“The Unemployment Benefit Scheme will be administered by the Government and not necessarily by NSSA,” he said.

“However, I can confirm that we have done a lot of work on the informal sector scheme.

“The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) is expected to conduct a survey either this month or at the beginning of next month to gather the views of informal sector workers.

“After that, it will not take us more than a year to launch the scheme.

“We have the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Bank.

“So, after the survey, we will know the way forward.”

Mr Shava said the scheme will seek to formalise the informal sector and ensure that workers make pension contributions.

“The informal sector consists of workers that do not have written contracts and companies in the sector are not incorporated,” he added.

“So, the scheme seeks to try and formalise the companies and ensure that workers have a pension when they retire.”

According to the ZimStat 2023 second quarterly Labour Force Survey report, 42 percent of Zimbabwe’s adult population is employed in the informal sector.

Government currently offers workers two mandatory social security schemes under NSSA — the National Pension Scheme (NPS), which supports retirees above the age of 60; and the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund (WCIF) for workers injured or killed in work-related accidents or suffer from work-related diseases.

Ghana and Uganda offer pensions to cover informal workers, while in South Africa, one may apply for unemployment benefits following a job loss and failure to secure new employment within 14 days.

Sunday Mail

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