‘HH wrong on retirement age’
Published On May 2, 2016 » 1840 Views» By Bennet Simbeye » HOME SLIDE SHOW, SHOWCASE
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THE Patriotic Front (PF) has observed with regret statements issued by Untied Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema over the retirement age and social security policy for workers.



PF chairperson for labour and social security of the Central Committee Joyce Nonde-Simukoko said it was regrettable that Mr Hichilema had continued issuing statements that if elected as Head of State, he would reverse the retirement age from 65 to 55 years, because people would be too tired to run their own business if they wished to do so after retiring.
In a statement, Ms Nonde-Simukoko reiterated that when the PF assumed office, it consulted with the labour movement and the Tripartite Consultative Council, which consisted of employers, employees and the Government.
She said that from the several meetings held, the Tripartite Consultative Council proposed the intention on retirement age which offered three options.
Ms Nonde-Simukoko said Mr Hichilema and other less-informed members of society should know that there was no rigidity involved in this arrangement as the Government was not forcing employees to retire at 65 years, but had instead provided a flexible graduated arrangement which empowered employees to make their own choice to either retire at 55 or 65 years.
“Mr Hichilema should know that there is no law in the country which forbids workers from engaging in their own private businesses while in active employment. Workers do not have to wait for retirement to start their own businesses or build their own houses, because waiting till retirement to start a business or build a house is just too risky,” she said.
Ms Nonde-Simukoko said there was enough evidence to show that many people who started businesses after retirement using pension benefits rarely succeeded and ended up bankrupt and in destitution.
She said the purpose of pension and social security in general was to look after retiring workers and cushion their needs until their demise, not to use for business activities.
Ms Nonde-Simukoko said that unlike Mr Hichilema’s thinking, the position of the PF administration was to encourage workers to start businesses and own houses while they were still in active employment and not wait until they were old.
She said the UPND leader did not seem to understand that it was not the retirement or pensionable age that drove unemployment, as the Central Statical Office (CSO) had clearly demonstrated.
“In the Zambian job market those at retirement age only constitute five per cent, while youths looking for jobs account for 65 per cent. Even if Mr Hichilema chases all the retirees, the unemployment situation for young people would still be negligible since 60 per cent of them would still remain unemployed,” she said.
Ms Nonde-Simukoko said the PF had instituted the pension reforms to ensure that workers’ pension schemes were solvent, profitable and sustainable in the long-term.
She said the Government was working hard to ensure that all retirees were paid their pension benefits in full.
Ms Nonde-Simukoko revealed that the PF labour and social security committee of the Central Committee would soon be engaging unions, associations and employers on the best modalities to support the retirees and called on the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, pension boards and unions to continue sensitising workers and the public on the issue and not fall prey to the political machinations.

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