NSSA rejuvenates social security for pensioners

as commercial goat production , subdised grocery schemes launched with mobile clinics initiated

By Edward Makuzva

Plagued by nightmares, flashbacks and unpleasant memories, Memory Moyo a 53-year-old mother of three narrates her ordeal.

The horrendous story of  this Kwekwe born accountant mirrors that of many Zimbabweans living as a destitutes despite having worked hard for years.

Living in a desolate homestead that has been turned into a home-cum-shabeen, where every kind of social ills are wild and flagrant has been a cause of concern especially in the upbringing if her kids.

Clad in shabby and ragged dress with callused toes poking through tattered snickers, which has become her attire over the years, somehow today the air is different for her despite her demise.

Thanks to the Nssa goat farming project which she has just been enrolled in.

“I worked for 25 years at one of the Spar Zimbabwe company and I’m now surviving with my NSSA pension contributions.However, I’m earning RTGS 40000 per month which is too little to sustain there where my food, rentals and school fees for my children ,” she said.

For her the project is a great way to secure one’s future and family.

“I have seen people make a living out of goats and there is no way I will fail”she says, as her face beams with hope.

The goat farming project that has been introduced by the Authority is expected to see the perennial cries of pensioners over the continued dilapidation of their welfare owing to an unstable macro economic environment, thing of the past.

Zimbabwes’ record economic stagnation from the early 2000 devalued depositor savings as hyperinflation took toll with pensioners always at the bitter end.

Foreplanning has became a jigsaw puzzle, with consumer prices for goods and services taking a continuous upsurge.

However ,NSSA has upscaled its initiatives to guarantee pensioner welfare through an innovative goat rearing scheme that targets external markets as one of it’s Hallmark income generation projects on its sleeve.
This include a revolving fund to support such initiatives.

The package will offer discounted groceries at selected retailers nation wide. It will go further to support livelihood projects.Under the scheme, there are no back charges involved.

The authority has also scheduled mobile clinics visits, bringing the service to the doors of pensioners.

“We have established a clinic for our pensioners in Harare and work is in progress to establish the same in all regions,” said the NSSA acting general manager Dr Charles Shava recently.

With some pensioners running sustainable projects, the Goat farming out grower programme currently piloted in Kwekwe, and a model scheme in Bindura and Gwanda is excited to be extended to other provinces in a bid to provide employment beyond retirement.

In his opening remarks during the 2023 NSSA/IPEC / Journalism Mentorship Program Launch, Dr Shava added that the Woodlands Farm project is a commercial project that is set to make profit from the investment being channelled into goat farming and the profits are going to be derived from the selling of cross bred goats both locally and internationally.

These profits are expected to give NSSA the potential to explore ways of enhancing pension pay-outs.

Dr Shava said the NSSA Board has so far authorised the injection of an initial US$2m into the project, with further injection as the project progresses.

Dr Shava added that the project addressed two national priorities in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025, namely Food and Nutrition Security, and Moving the Economy up the Value Chain and Structural Transformation.

The Woodlands Farm project ,Dr Shava said, is the national model project for the NSSA Pensioner Goat Projects being undertaken in each province.

He revealed that pensioners will be able to tap into the export market via this soon to be fully licensed export commercial goat farm.

Dr Shava said pensioners can either directly bring their herd to Woodlands for export or simply engage the local market.

“Since the NSSA Pensioners Goat Project is modelled around the Woodlands project, pensioners are benefiting from the imparting of world-class standards in goat rearing.

“This helps them understand and conform to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and for them to rear high quality products that fetch higher prices on the market.

“This project is also going to serve as a national commercial goat farming model for all those aspiring farmers who wish to get into the export of cross bred goats. The Middle Eastern market is huge and many participants in this sector will unlock much needed forex.

“There is huge demand for goats both locally and internationally.
We have already got expressions of interest from two of the leading retailers in the country who would want to buy from us when the project is up and running due to the high quality of meat that is going to be churned out.

“They have also expressed interest in other by-products that come from our goats, namely, milk, cheese, lotions and others,” Dr Shava explained.

He said the authority was targeting the export market and had engaged the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

UAE consumes over 16000 tonnes of goat meat per annum.

“The Middle East alone consumes in excess of 2 million goats per annum, so there is a lot of room for farmers to exploit this opportunity.

“It must be noted that UAE is of primary interest due to the close relations that have been nurtured by the UAE and Zimbabwe governments.

“Other markets are currently being explored by ZimTrade and will be availed in the near future. These markets will primarily be within the African continent and beyond where need be,” he added.

Dr Shava emphasised that the idea behind any successful outgrower project is to start in earnest and then expand progressively.

“We now expect delivery of the following, 200 Boer goats (does), 200 Matebele goats (does), 200 Red Kalahari (does) and 30 Boer bucks,” he said.

He said the pensioners will participate in the project as out growers.

The NSSA boss said while the available statistics may look small, it was worth noting that goats give birth twice a year and there is a 50% chance of having twins from each doe.
So far pensioners in Bindura and Gwanda have been identified for the project, which is now in its pilot phase .

“As an organisation we remain focused on becoming a world class provider of social security services by 2030 as such we are constantly working on various initiatives aimed at improving the livelihoods of current members as well as extending social security coverage to currently excluded groups of workers.

“We are now regularly reviewing pension levels so as to cushion our pensioners against inflationary pressures and hence preserve the buying power of their pensions.

“Secondly, as part of our mandate we are focused on promoting occupational safety and health in the workplace through teach-ins as well as health and safety assessments.

“We have also embarked on a number of initiatives aimed at improving the resilience of our pensioners which include a revolving fund to assist pensioners and beneficiaries who are interested in embarking on income generating projects.

” We are also offering discounted groceries at selected retailers and we recently increased our footprint to other towns across the country which includes zero bank charges for our pensioners at NBS and NBS
,” he said.

NSSA is also expected to provide suitable housing for pensioners with disability.

The accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme will set aside funding to provide housing for those who have plans cut short from work related accidents.

In an interview with this publication,
Zibagwe Rural District Council (RDC) chief executive officer (CEO), Farayi Machaya confirmed the goat project in his area.

He was optimistic that the authority’s investment in the rural area would surely transform lives.

“NSSA has secured land in Ward 30, Woodlands Farm, where it is looking forward to establishing a goat project and a large abattoir for the export market. Current flock size at site is 120 female Matabele goats type and we are awaiting delivery of 230 male boer goats purchased from Namibia sometime in February this year,” said Machaya.

The Pilot Goat Project is located approximately 3 kilometres from Camelot Schools in Ward 30.

Machaya added that youth, women and men, are expected to benefit from such huge investments coming our way, through employment and knowledge in the agricultural, small animals’ husbandry sector.

Available statistics shows that currently, about 1.4million Zimbabweans are covered under the social security schemes against an estimated total labour force of 3.913 million.

Should the goat farming project be fully embraced by all pensioners, their plight driven by economic headwinds will soon be a thing of the past.

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