Zimbabwean pensioners who served under the Rhodesian government before relocating to South Africa have reportedly turned destitute after President Robert Mugabe’s government “scrapped their payouts without explanation”.
According to NewsDay, an organisation set up to keep track of the affected pensioners and their welfare, Flame Lily Foundation, said its 300 members aged between 78 and 101 had been “dumped” by the Zimbabwean government.
The pensioners were said to have relocated to South Africa at independence in 1980.
“We established a project to assist those who were destitute and whose only income was a South African state welfare grant,” Flame Lily Foundation national secretary John Redfern was quoted as saying.
“In 2012, the Zimbabwe Government Pension Master let us know that pensioners in South Africa could apply for their pension to be restored.
“With our assistance, over 500 pensioners were able to regain their lost pensions, backdated to 2009 when Zimbabwe adopted the US dollar as the country’s official currency.
Worsening cash crisis
“Due to a change in policy, most of these pensioners have not received any payment since August 2016 and are now facing renewed financial hardship.”
Zimbabwe’s labour and social welfare minister Priscah Mupfumira, however, said she was not aware of the issue, adding that if the pensioners were living outside the country then “maybe forex would be the issue”.
The pensioners had since sought British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing’s mediation in attempts to restore payouts, NewsDay said.
This came as reports indicated that Zimbabwe’s cash crisis was worsening, with many in the country fearing a rerun of the last economic crunch which peaked in 2008, when “bearer cheques” lost value rapidly and hyperinflation chased goods from shop shelves.
The country’s central bank announced recently that it will in the next two weeks release 300 million dollars’ worth of new bond notes.
The state-run Sunday News quoted central bank chief John Mangudya as saying these notes, like the first 200 million released in November, would be backed by a loan from the African Export-Import Bank.