The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) are bracing for a bruising court battle with the government after authorities rejected the labour movement's nominees to the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) board without explanation, businessdigest has established.
Labour minister Sekai Nzenza appointed a new Nssa board earlier this year, chaired by Cuthbert Chidoori. Other members of the board are Priscilla Mujuru, Mfaro Moyo, Cecilia Alexander and Arthur Manase. None of them represent labour.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo told businessdigest this week that labour had forwarded three names to represent them on the board, but the three names had been rejected after vetting by security.
"We sent three names to government which were taken for vetting by security and we were told that they have been rejected," Moyo said. "We were not given any reasons why the names were rejected and we wonder what the reason could be. Could it be because of politics? We do not know."
Moyo said after not getting any explanation as to why the three names had been rejected, the labour body will re-submit the same three names for reconsideration.
"Why should we change the names we sent when we have not received any explanation why they have been rejected?" Moyo charged. "If we get no joy from government in having those names considered to be on the Nssa board, then we will have to look at other remedies which include challenging the decision in the court of law."
ZFTU secretary-general Kenneth Shamuyarira concurred with Moyo over the issue of representation on the Nssa board by labour.
"We have taken the same position as the ZCTU. The position is very clear. We will not be dictated to as to who we should put on the Nssa board," Shamuyarira told businessdigest. "We cannot have somebody cherry-pick for us who to put on the board to represent labour."
Shamuyarira said the two unions had met with minister Nzenza on Friday last week where the issue came under discussion.
"The minister called us on Friday where the issue was discussed at length. She told us that the main issue is the process of vetting, a process over which she has no authority. The minister has assured us that the full composition of the board, including our representatives from labour, will be in place by the 26th of April," he said.
Shamuyarira said they had, however, complained to the minister that their representatives had not been vetted as expeditiously as other members on the board.
This is not the first time that labour has been at odds with government over its representation on the Nssa board. ZCTU president Peter Mutasa was removed from the board in 2017 by then Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira for allegedly failing to advance the interests of Nssa by attacking the institution during meetings and in the media. He was also accused of failure to uphold confidentiality of board discussions. But was reinstated later that year when Patrick Zhuwao took over as Labour minister.
Nssa has investments in banking, insurance, hospitality and property sectors, among other portfolios. Its investments have surpassed US$1 billion and are among the few sources of liquidity in the market. This has made it a platform for contestation among various parties eyeing the cash-rich fund.
The Nssa fund has always been a source of controversy, with a number of senior managers being fired over mismanagement of finances and corruption.
Nssa was created through the National Social Security Authority Act (Chapter 17:04) of 1989. The legislation empowers the Labour minister to establish a social security scheme for the provision of benefits to or in respect of all employees.