RETIREMENT is for every worker, whether in full-time employment or otherwise, because one comes to the end of their strength and they have to rest.
The end of work, for most workers, means their assured source of income – the salary – also ceases to come.
That is why Government put in place pension schemes so that employees can have some sound financial stability during and after work life.
We have seen how some pension schemes have enabled employees, as contributors, to invest in property. Some employees have been able to build houses through their pension schemes.
This affords a contributor some sense of security in that one does not have to bother about where to live after their retirement and in this way, they are spared from destitution.
Government is interested in the welfare of a retiree as indicated by Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko when she noted that the current social security system needs urgent overhaul for failing to provide adequate social protection to workers during and after employment.
Mrs Simukoko said retirees are made to wait for years before they receive their retirement benefits, mainly because of liquidity challenges some pension schemes face.
She said a situation like this is not fair to a worker who had contributed to a pension scheme for many years.
We cannot agree more with Mrs Simukoko because the idea of contributing to a pension scheme is for one to get their benefits upon retirement.
A pension scheme is like an act of sowing and reaping. It is expected that as a worker makes their contribution during their work life, they will reap their harvest when they retire.
It therefore means that when managers of a pension scheme fail to honour their obligation to a retiree, they are abrogating their responsibility towards that retiree.
But much more, the pension managers should realise they are bringing about misery to the retiree and making retirement life a period not to look forward to.
Moreover, the pension benefits most retirees get are low, making the retiree dependent on other members of the family.
We agree also with Mrs Simukoko when she says that the payment of a larger part of the pension benefits as one off leads to serious destitution for pensioners. Most of them try some business which often fail, leaving them poorer.
We want to commend Government for its efforts at putting in long-term measures to make the social security system more sustainable.
Mrs Simukoko says the global trends is for social security systems to be drivers of poverty reduction and wealth creation in order to achieve higher levels of development.
We want to say that the minister is right because social security systems aim to assist the retiree, who even long after retiring, still remains a part of the development process because of the vast experience they acquired in the work life.
This is why a social security system should be tailored to have a sustainability which will enable retirees to live a more comfortable and decent life.
Among the suggestions are to tailor pension schemes in such a way that a retiree’s monthly payments place them in the same position they enjoyed during their work life.
While we appreciate the harsh economic situation in which pension schemes operate, we believe they can exploit other means to come up with ways to overcome their financial challenges.
It is evident and gratifying, at the same time, that Government is undertaking reforms aimed at securing a better life for retirees and this calls for support from all stakeholders.
Retirees should not be consigned to poverty but be given a decent life through their pension contributions so that they live happier lives.