Columnists Features

Pensioner uses commutation benefits to better his life

THE story about returning injured workers to employment and any other economic activity makes interesting reading if it is not told in isolation of real-life situations.
David Mubanga, our pensioner based on the Copperbelt, presents a clear case of a real-life situation involving a worker who contracted an occupational disease, and separated from the employer but has since been returned to self-employment by the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB).
The returning of Mr Mubanga to employment confirms statements made in our previous articles in which we have repeatedly stated that the compensation plan for injured workers goes beyond monthly monetary awards to include rehabilitation and medical care, among others.   According to John Bwalya, our senior branch manager at the Kitwe office, Mr Mubanga is one of the many other pensioners who have successfully been rehabilitated by WCFCB and deserves to be covered on this platform for the information of our readers on some of the return-to-work programmes that the organisation is implementing, and we agree with him.
Mr Bwalya informed us last week that he had visited our pensioner, Mr Mubanga, and he was impressed with the progress made by the latter after obtaining part commutation of his monthly pension for the purpose of venturing into business and rehabilitating his dwelling house.
Let me quote an email sent to me by Mr Bwalya:
“This is one of the successful stories of a pensioner by the name of Mr David Mubanga who has benefited from the board through the K11,000.00 he got as arrears and the K20,000.00 part commutation paid to him last year.
“He has improved his dwelling house and he has established a well-stocked shop at the same premises.”
Commutation in part or total is given on application by a pensioner, for the purpose of entering into a business project or undertaking what has economic gains.
In this case, a lump sum is paid from the monthly pension which in effect reduces the residue pension, and sometimes, even becomes responsible for low value benefits in future, for the purpose of enabling a pensioner to undertake a business venture.
As we have stated before, we encourage pensioners, especially those in receipt of meagre monthly pensions, to totally commute for the purpose of venturing into business rather than receiving meagre monthly pensions.
It certainly makes a lot of economic sense to commute and get a lump sum than to receive a few hundreds of kwacha every month for many years. And we must admit our challenges to convince pensioners to commute. They tend to believe that we are inducing them, as they say, “to sell their pension”.
They would rather wait until their monthly pensions are improved in future. However, where we have succeeded to promote the commutation scheme, positive results have been recorded and we are proud to tell the story of Mr Mubanga, though not big, but gives hope to others.
Readers may further note that we tell this story today to show some of the benefits accruing to injured workers, about which little is known or even said, in the face of concerns by stakeholders on the adequacy of compensation benefits.
The story of Mr Mubanga is just one of the many cases of pensioners who have successfully undergone rehabilitation to restore their earning capacities, yet not much has been said or heard about this side of the compensation business.
What most people know about compensation is informed only by low value monetary benefits. There is little or no information about 100 percent medical refunds to encourage quality health care, sophisticated medical aid provided to pensioners, and sponsorships for pensioners to undertake courses at higher learning institutions.
We have not even talked about nursing care services and post-accident counselling services provided to highly disabled persons.
The author is corporate affairs and customer services manager
Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board

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