Half a year later, he is yet to receive his pension, with his shoes worn out from walking to the Local Authority Pension Fund (LAPF) offices in the hope that he could persuade them to expedite his pay out.
“This is very cruel,” he said desolately. “They are killing us.”
Badze said some local authorities were offering their employees loans, which would be paid once their pensions were paid back, which no one knows when it would be.
He said he had been informed by people at the fund that pension pay outs were behind by three months, but Badze fears it could be worse than that.
“As it is, I am from the doctor as I now have (high) blood pressure from stress, because after years of receiving a salary, all of a sudden I have no income and I am not receiving my pension,” he said.
The former council employee said what made the matter worse was that he had been loyal to the council, while others left for greener pastures during the lean years of the last decade.
Badze’s case could only be a tip of the iceberg, as thousands of pensioners have been waiting in vain for years for their pensions.
Some people are reported to have gone into destitution while others committed suicide as they could not fathom living without an income, particularly when they had been paying contributions.
Local authorities too poor to remit pensions— Moyo
Bulawayo mayor, Thaba Moyo (pictured), who is the first vice-president of the Urban Councils Authority of Zimbabwe, conceded that councils were failing to remit money to the pension fund, but blamed it on the state of the economy.
“The economic problems the country is facing are the same ones that we face, the truth is we do not have money,” he said.
Moyo said despite indications on payslips indicating that money was being collected from employees “these were just on paper, they were for the payslip”.
He said it was impossible for local authorities to remit money to the pension fund, as they themselves did not have money and had not taken a deliberate position not to pay.
Moyo said some local authorities, like the Bulawayo City Council, had taken a decision to extend by six months the contracts of employees who would have retired so that when they finally left work their pensions would have been processed.
LAPF blames local authorities for failing to remit contributions
LAPF boss, Charles Mandizvidza said the problem was that a number of authorities were not remitting the pensions they would have collected from their staff. This made it difficult for them to pay out pensions, he claimed.
“The main problem is the remittance of contributions by subscriber authorities,” he said, before asking for questions in writing.
He said the payment of monthly pensions was three months behind schedule owing to a “liquidity squeeze emanating from financial incapacity to remit monthly contributions by subscribing member local authorities”.
Mandizvidza said he was not in a position to name the defaulting local authorities, adding that a majority of them were in arrears.
He said the fund had begun “aggressive and active engagement” with local authorities to clear the arrears.
Contacted for comment, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paurina Mpariwa, asked for questions in writing.
She had not responded to the questions at the time of going to print.
Former council workers have raised their ire at the LAPF, saying it had a number of investments and these could be used to pay out their pensions in the event that local authorities delayed in remitting funds.
LAPF owns a number of upmarket commercial properties throughout the country, like Montagu Centre, Liquenda House, Marimba Shopping Centre, LAPF House and LAPF Centre in Harare.
It also owns Jameson Hotel in the capital and has a joint ownership of the Kadoma Ranch Motel. It also owns LAPF House in Bulawayo.
It has a number of interests in the retail sector throughout the country.
The fund says it has 30 000 pensioners and contributor members, while its website says it had an asset base of about US$91,5 million at the end of December 2009.
“Surely, which means they can afford to pay, we are suffering while they are using our money to invest yet we do not benefit,” a pensioner said on condition of anonymity.
He said he was struggling to pay utility bills, school fees and other expenses and this was making life difficult for him.
“Local authorities and LAPF are not being fair to us,” he complained bitterly. “They are well-paid and drive fancy cars, while we starve.”
The pensioner urged LAPF to pay like the National Social Security Authority, which commences payment the moment someone retires. Pensioners get a minimum of US$40 a month from NSSA.
“It is a small amount, but at least they are paying,” he said.