PENSION ? WHAT IS A PENSION ?          - 15/11/2010      <--Prev : Next-->

We watched with interest the debacle in France where the populace was violently opposing the extension of the pensionable age from 60 to 62 years old. Air travel was disrupted because the mobs had blocked fuel depots and the gasoline trucks at the airport didn't have enough juice.

Trains were limited. Gas stations were closed. Police were getting pelted with rocks. Cars were overturned and burned, practically a French sport.

And because it is always in the French nature in such matters, the protesters included trash collectors, so that garbage piled up in the streets. Oh to be French instead of Zimbabwean !!

Sadly most of the elderly in Zimbabwe have had nothing their whole lives, and will still have nothing at all for their old age except for their amazing family support system. Some Zimbabweans however were lucky enough to have the facility of paying into a pension policy at some stage in their lives and had looked forward to a retirement with all the fringe benefits that come with a pension. But today the word "pension" is a dirty word in Zimbabwe. Some of our pensioners may have paid into pension schemes their entire lives in this country but they have absolutely nothing to show for it.

Most pension schemes became totally worthless during the crazy days when the currency collapsed in such a spectacularly sad fashion. The words "Old Mutual Pension Scheme" are particularly dirty words, and the Old Mutual should hang its head in absolute shame. Instead of making provision to pay out policy holders who so faithfully paid their monthly dues, we hear that Old Mutual local management are lining up a 25% chunk of the local assets for themselves and their workers. We know life is unfair, but something can still be done here. Many of these policyholders have already died in penury, some having committed suicide during the hyperinflation period when they could not feed themselves. They invested in policies over their lifetimes, the funds of which were used by Old Mutual to invest in shares and properties, which held their value in real terms.

The collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar made a mockery of every single local pension. Our pensioners are penniless, poverty stricken and find life very very hard indeed. Imagine the luxury of being able to retire at 60 like those folk in first world countries ?? In Zimbabwe you work until the day you die.

So often these days, one sees a pensioner wobbling his or her way into town on a bicycle. Ancient security guards, struggling to make their way to their posts, old old men and women trying to eek out an frugal existence, instead of spending their "golden years" in comfort and security.

Instead of spending their last years knitting, looking after their grandchildren, traveling (yes that's what the brochures say !!) our pensioners are still working long hard days, bones creaking, backs aching, its a complete travesty. How I wish we had the spunk of the French, but if we did take to the streets in protest, we creaking pensioners would all be beaten mercilessly and thrown into filthy cells. The world has forgotten Zimbabwe it seems.

However there are moves afoot to take the Old Mutual head on saying that "OLD MUTUAL IS NOT PLAYING THE GAME !!" "Old Mutual may not have a legal obligation, but it has a moral obligation to put aside at least 20% of its assets to payout to those who did not even receive 0.00001c of the $1 they had invested." Old Mutual Policy Holders who feel that they have been unfairly treated please send your grievances to