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MIDLANDS STATE

UNIVERSITY

TOPIC:

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PENSION AND OTHER BENEFITS SCHEME PROCESSING PAYMENT SYSTEM: A CASE STUDY OF THE NATIONAL SOCIAL SECURITY AUTHORITY (NSSA).

SUBMITTED BY: VENGESA MUTAPIRI

PROGRAMME: DEGREE

BACHELORS OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

STUDENT NUMBER:

512185

SUBMITTED TO THE MIDLANDS STATE UNIVERSITY IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE BACHELORS OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION DEGREE [BBA]

FACULTY OF COMMERCE

JANUARY 2012

Definition of terms NSSA National Social Security Authority Authority will refer to the National Social Security Authority Benefits will refer to all long term pensions paid by NSSA under the Pensions And Other Benefits Scheme (retirement , invalidity ,survivors and childrens allowance) in terms of statutory instrument 393 of 1993 Warrants- will refer to those forms sent to Zimpost by NSSA to enable NSSA pensioners to be given cash over the counter by Zimpost Scheme will refer to the Pensions And Other Benefits scheme Pensioners- those payees who are receiving long term pension under the Pension and Other Benefits scheme Long term pension- benefits paid on a month by month basis Life certificate a form sent out to all pensioners receiving pension to establish whether they are still alive

CHAPTER 1

1. INTRODUCTION This chapter covers the background of the study, statement of the problem and research questions.

1.1BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY The National Social Security Authority is a parastatal mandated by Government through an act of Parliament the NSSA Act Chapter 17:04 to operate social security schemes in Zimbabwe. NSSA is currently responsible for the management of two social security schemes, the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme governed by statutory instrument 393 of 1993 and the Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme governed by statutory instrument 68 of 1990.

The objective of the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme is to provide financial relief through payment of benefits to members and their dependants in times of work stoppage, and or substantial wage reduction due to old age retirement, invalidity or death. The scheme was introduced on the 1st of October 1994.The scheme is financed by contributions which are shared equally by employers and employees. The Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme is a social insurance which covers employees against work related injuries and or diseases and is wholly funded by employers.

Despite the submission of claims against the Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme, beneficiaries are concerned with the delays in the processing of their benefits and the amounts of the pension.

The purpose of this study is to find out the reasons by analyzing the benefits payment system for the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme. According to NSSAs strategic plan processing and payment of all long term benefits should be done within thirty days of submission of claim and short term benefits within five days. Long term benefits refer to those pensions that are paid on a monthly basis such as retirement pension, invalidity pension and survivors pension while short term benefits are once off payments in the form of retirement grant, invalidity grant, survivors grant and the funeral grant. Pensioners expect to receive their pension within the first month preceding their retirement so as to ensure a continuation of inflow of income. Delays of any nature therefore results in socio-economic problems and complaints and portrays a bad image on the person of NSSA. If NSSA is to realize its vision of To be a world class provider of social security it has to ensure that such delays are addressed. The study will assist in coming up with appropriate recommendations with view to improve the pensions payment delivery system.

The researcher has observed that the number of pensioners coming to enquire and raising complaints is increasing from period January 2009.Possible causes of delays could be attributed to bureaucratic processing procedures, use of a semi automated ICT system, inadequacy of the human and material resources, method of paying benefits and poor

communication with pensioners. Complaints of delays in processing are a reflection of the inefficiency of the procedures and systems being used. These complaints on benefits have an effect on compliance as some employers will be unwilling to pay contributions, thus affecting the revenue inflows.

VISION According to NSSAs strategic plan covering period 2009-2013 its vision is; To be a world class provider of Social Security.

MISSION To provide care and protection for all Zimbabweans through comprehensive Social Security Schemes and play a prominent role in national development

Origin of backlogs NSSA subcontracted Zimpost to pay its long term benefits to its beneficiaries through all of their countrywide post offices this method of payment was seen ineffective. There where inherent delays in the process of delivering warrants to all of its post offices some of which are found in very remote areas. Most of the warrants were being returned to NSSA because claimants might have failed to collect them after six months. This has been again changed to the use of individual accounts. NSSA benefits staff failed to cope with the increasing number of accounts to be captured because the transition period was very short. They concentrated on updating already existing records while new claims were piling without being processed.

NSSA ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE According to the strategic plan document (2009 2013) The Authority is managed by an executive management headed by a General Manager who reports to the Board of nonexecutive directors. The Board is comprised of representatives from Government, Labour movement and Employers Organization and is chaired by a non-executive Chairman.

Government as guarantor of NSSA through the NSSA Act of parliament demands efficiency and viability of NSSA operations so as to safeguard and minimize the states level of liability exposure over NSSA activities. NSSA has six divisions headed by an executive director who reports to the General Manager. These divisions are: Benefits, Research and schemes planning Contributions and Compliance Corporate Services Investments Finance Occupational Safety and Health

TIME FRAME TO PAY BENEFITS As per the strategic plan NSSA is failing to meet its objective on benefits as pensioners are experiencing delays in the payment of their benefits wherein they are being paid well after five days for short term benefits and after thirty days for long term benefits.

Robertson (1992:7) stated: If you die tomorrow will any benefits be paid to your children, spouse, and parents? If so, how much? How long will the benefits be paid? Will this be enough to support your family?

DEFINITION OF SOCIAL SECURITY Social security is defined as: A set of measures that a society employs to give its members some form of income security, these necessarily have a profound impact in income distribution in the country. The authority: Financing social protection Cichon etal (2004:11) The objective of the National Social Security Authority through the Pensions and Other Benefits Scheme is to provide financial relief to members during times of substantial wages reduction due to old age retirement, invalidity and or deaths of a breadwinner.

When the Pensions and Other benefits Scheme commenced on the 1st of October 1994, the generality of the citizens of Zimbabwe did not understand much about Social Security, this was also made worse by the fact that the scheme was compulsory and yet there were no adequate campaigns to educate them on the benefits that were available. The scheme was hated by citizens right from the beginning.

In Zimbabwe, the National Social Security Authority, covers only old age retirement, invalidity or disability, Survivors and employment injury. NSSA administers two major social security schemes the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme governed by Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 and Accident Prevention and Workers Compensation Scheme.

This study will only focus on the Pension and Other Benefits scheme which is funded by employers and employees. After contributing ,an employee at retirement age submits claim forms. It is expected that within 30 days a long term claim should have been processed and after five days a short term claim should have been processed, this is not happening then as claimants are receiving their pensions after four months.

1.2Statement of the Research Problem The problem besieging the Pensions And Other Benefits Scheme are the backlogs and delays in the processing of benefits which is taking more than thirty days and five days for the long term and short term benefits respectively from the time of submission of a complete claim form. As a result of this delay pensioners are being affected as they do not have income to meet their daily needs . These delays are tarnishing NSSAs image. It is against this background that this study intends to investigate causes of the pension processing delays. 1.3 Purpose of the study The purpose of the study is to analyze the efficiency of the current pension payment delivery system and to find out the reasons behind the delays in the processing of the pension payments. This will help coming up with appropriate recommendations in order to improve the benefit payment system by reducing the turnaround time of processing benefits. The study will assist in building a good public image for NSSA and therefore improve stakeholder confidence

The study will sharpen the researchers skills and improve his decision making capability. The study will enable the researcher to complete his Bachelors of Business Administration degree program. 1.3.1 Objectives of the study To analyze the effectiveness of the pension delivery system. To determine the reasons for delays in benefits processing.To make recommendations to improve the benefits processing system.

1.4 Research questions /sub-problems Are there any problems with the current methods of paying benefits? What are the reasons for delays and backlogs? What recommendations are needed to improve the current system? 1.5 Importance of the study The study will assist in building a good public image for NSSA and therefore improve stakeholder confidence. An efficient pension processing system may lead to a reduction in complaints from pensioners, short queues and hence NSSA image will be improved. Costs pertaining to disbursement of pensions are high and these would require that such pensions paid are collected on time if NSSA is to go by its Mission statement to provide care and social protection for all Zimbabweans through comprehensive social security schemes and play a prominent role in national development the study will seek to improve the pension payment delivery system. Knowledge obtained throughout the research will improve the reseacher skills and help in his future endeavors in the industry and the academic field. 9

1.5Assumptions Pensioners are willing to co-operate and answer questions. The researcher will have sufficient time and enough resources to carry out the research. 1.6 Scope (delimitation) of the study The analysis will only be carried out on the Pensions And Other Benefits Scheme and will only cover pensions only processed at Harare Region. The analysis will be limited to NSSA Head Office and Harare Region. The research will cover pensions processed for period April 2009 to December 2011. 1.8 Limitations The researcher is a full time employee with NSSA and this will result in time constraints. Financial and material resource requirements constraints in terms of research costs. The study was done in Harare and Head office only, the views of the respondents can not represent the views of other individuals in other regional offices.

1.9 Literature review Secondary information will be obtained from NSSA internal journals,publications and records , NSSA Act Chapter 17.04 and Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 and its amendments, Social Security books on social security insurance and social protection ,strategic management ,marketing, change management and other relevant books will also be used. 2.0 Research Design and Methodology

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The study will involve the collection of data using questionnaires for NSSA pensioners and NSSA staff as well as interviews. The research population will be made up of 127000 NSSA pensioners 312 employees and 15 managers. The research sample will be 200 made up of 150 pensioners,30 employees and 20 managers .Harare Region also include Bindura and Marondera and has a total of 30 Post Offices (NSSA pension database).Pensioners will be selected based on systematic sampling , the researcher will interview every fifth pensioner until the sample of pensioners is complete. The researcher will administer five questionnaires from each of NSSAs six divisions picked at random. The researcher will administer the questionnaire from any manager irrespective of the divisions. Given financial constraints and limited time the researcher will interview respondents from 10 Post Offices .Questionnaires and interviews will be carried out at Central Payments Office and Harare Regional Office. Data collected will be analyzed quantitatively by use of statistical graphs and tables. The analysis will assist to come up with reasons for the delays in the processing of benefits and come up with recommendations to improve the pension processing delivery system.

CONCLUSION

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This chapter covered background of the study, statement of research problem, purpose of the study, research question/sub problems, assumptions, scope of the study, defining of terms and limitations. The next chapter covers literature review relevant to the problem.

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CHAPTER 2

LITERATURE REVIEW 2.0 INTRODUCTION This chapter looks at literature review pertaining to social security books and journals, strategic management, change management, and marketing books including NSSA internal records and statutes that are of importance to the study .The literature will assist in bench marking NSSA with other social security schemes. In light of the above this chapter is designed to discuss different views from different sources pertaining to the study mentioned.

HISTORY OF SOCIAL SECURITY The German Government under chancellor Bismarck established the first broad system of social insurance between 1883 and 1889. These systems of social insurance gave workers and other families a way to insure themselves against many social hazards and provide income support when they were no longer able to work, mainly due to old age, but also during times of illness and to a lesser extent during times of unemployment. These early self financing schemes were limited in their occupational coverage in the level and duration of benefits whose benefits depended in past employment and contribution history. These schemes spread to Latin America, the United States and Canada by 1930s. Social insurance was introduced in many countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean area upon the attainment of national independence.

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After the Second World War, these schemes in the developed countries, developed to encompass the principle of solidarity between the young and the old, the employed and the unemployed those in good health and those who were not. This has resulted in economic growth and the improvement of the standard of living of their citizens.

SOCIAL SECURITY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES In developing countries however, the scope of social protection schemes is restricted to the public service and the modern sector of the economy, where it is easier to collect contributions, maintain records of benefits and entitlements despite the limited scope these schemes are often managed badly. Problems pertaining to compliance by employers and employees. Social Security schemes in the developing countries have problems of operating functions, which are expensive and lack of proper financial management and their inability to pay late benefits promptly or in full. Benefits are generally low and the time taken to process them is too long.

Most social security programmes in the developing countries do not cover people in the informal sector and they do not have the capacity to alleviate poverty. In terms of the International Labour Organization (ILO) access to social protection is a basic human right.

Social Security has become a global issue. Developed nations in example of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and America have indeed put up adequate social security protection schemes for the majority of their citizens. It is therefore quite noble that Zimbabwe is one of the African Countries that has made enormous strides in the provision

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of social security services to the generality of its citizens, through the establishment of the National Social Security Authority Act Chapter 17:04.

The Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry Of Labour and Social Welfare provide social protection to the poor, vulnerable and needy, through its welfare arm. Each fiscal year the Government as the financier allocates a budget for Social Welfare programmes .However the Government cannot cope with the ever increasing demands of its citizens who require social protection assistance

Contributors to the Pensions and other Benefits Scheme are not adequately informed as they do not understand social security and its benefits just as Robertson puts it. This is despite the fact that NSSA, apart from its Public Relations department, created a department of Liaison Officers who visit companies educating them on the operations of the scheme including the types of benefits offered and their qualifying conditions.

NSSA plays a prominent role in national development, however as Robertson (1992) said In most cases they should not sacrifice the social protection objectives in a bid to improve the general economic situation.

Indeed the general economic situation influences the performance of social security systems (social security news: 2006). Rich countries can therefore afford adequate social protection while weak economies can only afford minimal level of social protection.

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The International Labour Organisation Social Security Association (2000) states that:-

It is generally accepted that the following are referred to as Social Security programmes merely because they are financed primarily by social security payroll taxes and by employers, employees and self employed persons. The programmes include:

Retirement Insurance (frequently referred to as old age insurance) Survivors Insurance Disability Insurance

In developed countries however they do have comprehensive programmes which cater for citizens across the board. NSSA s strategic plan is to introduce two more major schemes by 2013 namely the National Health Scheme and the Maternity Benefit. The launching of the National Health Scheme met resistance from the stakeholders because Nssa is struggling to process the current schemes efficiently and it was put on hold due to the economic hardships and the lack of trust of NSSA by many stakeholders. The National Social Security Trust Fund (2004:18) states:

IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL SECURITY The essential function of social security is to protect the individual against crisis and uncertainties of life, particularly those crises and uncertainties which threatens seriously or actually disrupt his access to income to meet essential needs, including the needs of dependents, if any. The following are the commonest and most universal of such threats or risks.

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Unemployment Retirement/old age Disability/ invalidity/ sickness Mark injury Widow Death

In terms of the Nigerias National Social Security Trust Fund (2004:23) Though there is still room for improvement regarding promptness of payments due, concrete measures have been introduced and are already yielding results. There is need for all social security schemes benefits to be paid in time. In the developing world, like Nigeria as quoted above, the challenges of delays were experienced although they report of improvements. In Zimbabwe the journalistic language is being sung by Social Security beneficiaries on the problems of delays in payments. How is a delayed benefit payment going to socially protect the intended beneficiaries? There is need for developing countries to improve and ensure that benefits are paid on time if social security is to realize its goal.

SOCIAL SECURITY IN ZIMBABWE Social Security in Zimbabwe dates back to the ancient times in the form of the Zunde Ramambo concept, where villagers were required to assist in the preparations of fields and the resultant growing of crops set aside by the chief. The crops were harvested and stored by the Chief who would give it to the needy villagers in times of drought, poverty. This is a

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typical traditional social security protection programme to cater for such contingencies. In this case the villagers contributed in the form of labour. It is worth mentioning that although these ancient people were not educated they had their own social security programmes which were community based.

The Government of Zimbabwe through the National Social Security collects contributions from employees in the public sector and private sector in order to cushion workers against the economic and social distress that would otherwise be caused by the substantial reduction in earnings due to old age retirement, sickness, employment injury and death of a breadwinner.

BACKGROUND STAFF The appointment of the Board of directors is done by the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare. The board is tripartite with equal representatives of three members each selected from the Government, employers organizations and representatives of employees. The Chairman is appointed by Government. The tripartite arrangement is critical in the Social Security administration in the sense that since the board is charged with policy formulation and giving strategic direction to NSSA, the interests of the key stakeholders, government, employers and employees are represented. The General Manager of NSSA is an ex-officio member of the board.

When NSSA was established in 1994 there was an outcry from both employers and employees who thought that the scheme was a form of a tax which the government wanted

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to use to collect funds for its own use. NSSA suffered a bad image from its inception and had it not been that it was compulsory the scheme could have died at its launch.

Buden et al (1997) said, The key priority issues to be addressed in dealing with lack of credibility in the funds concerned is more to do with the inherited institutional design and resultant governance problems related there to facilitate the viability and sustainability of Social Security Schemes should be accompanied by good governance.

It entails that there is need for Social Security Schemes administrators to build trust with the stakeholders if they are to survive. The International Social Security Authority Association (1996) said.

Unfortunately in most African countries that have social Security Schemes, there is clear indication of government intervention. It is the governments that has assumed the control and to a greater extend the composition and appointment of governing boards as well as social security administration.

In Zimbabwe indeed the appointment and composition of parastatal boards including NSSA is done by the Government through their mother Ministries. Section 5 of NSSA Act Chapter 17:04 empowers the minister to appoint directors.

The power to appoint directors will also assume that the minister can give for example investment directions to the board which may not be in the interest of the other

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stakeholders, hence the governance problems issue which result in lack of trust in these institutions.

NSSA is the only single institution in Zimbabwe that administers social security schemes. Indeed there is autonomy in as far as administrative decisions are made but as regards coverage, benefits, contributions these have to be approved by Government. Such decisions will always take time because of the bureaucracy of Government operations. The ideal situation would be in my view, to allow the board of NSSA to make such decisions since there is equal representation from the key stakeholders.

In Namibia members of the board of directors are appointed on the basis of their skills instead of one of the basis of affiliation to a particular stakeholder group. Social Security Financing (2002:22) States.

An administration exists for the purpose of providing effective and efficient service to its clients, those being the various participants in the scheme, who may be employers, employees, beneficiaries or others covered by the scheme.

When NSSA started to operate on the 1st of October 1994, there were administrative challenges as a result of lack of management expertise and experience in the administrative of social security. The Pensions and Other benefits Schemes objective was to register all employers and employees in the private sector and parastatals and to collect contributions.

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The result was a massive inflow of documents which needed to be captured while at the same time accepting cash from employers.

One of the challenges that NSSA faced and is still facing is the efficiency of the pension processing delivery system to the extent that benefits paid under the Pensions and Benefits Scheme are not paid on time, a situation that is not desirable in social protection. The question that beneficiaries ask is what is the cause of that, is it inefficiency on the part of the benefits division? is it mismanagement? or at worst do they have the funds? or are they bankrupt?

In order to improve the service delivery of the benefits processing NSSA decentralized the processing of its long term benefits from Head Office to its six Regional Offices in 2006 and remained with the central payments office stationed at Head Office with the administration of running the monthly payroll. The idea was noble in that the service was bought near the customer.

The service delivery is further affected by the fact that the payment of all short term benefits were subject to clearance by ZIMRA, with the exception of funeral grants ,before being paid out, hence the five day payment period cannot be achieved due to factors beyond NSSA s control.

BENEFITS PROCESSING

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The Pension and Other Benefits Scheme is a Defined Benefits scheme in that each benefit is calculated using a pre-determined formula. According to Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 there are two categories of benefits short term and long term benefits. LONG TERM BEENFITS

Retirement Pension Invalidity Pension Survivors Pension

SHORT TERM BENEFITS

Retirement Grant Invalidity Grant Survivors Grant Funeral Grant

NB* long term benefits refer to monthly pension payments and short term benefits are once off payments or lump sums.

The Pension and Other Benefits Scheme does not accept information from applicants that is not complete. Any application forms thus left with them would have been checked for completeness. The department experienced problems in 1995 when they started paying

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benefits, where claimants would leave forms not properly completed and without adequate documents. These created administration problems of writing letters and making followups by Compliance Inspectors.

While the funeral grant is paid on the same day of submitting application the other benefits take more than five days because of procedures like ZIMRA clearance. The Pension and Other Benefits Manual (2008) details the procedures to be followed in processing all of the schemes benefits including refunds.

ENTITLEMENT TO RETIREMENT BENEFIT

Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 (26) states the qualifications of a pension benefit;

Attained 55 years in arduous employment Attained 60 years early retirement Attained 65 years late retirement Retired from work Contributed for more than 120 months.

For a retirement grant contributor would have contributed for less than 120 months. All the other qualifying conditions remain the same.

INVALIDITY PENSION

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Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 (22) states the qualifications of benefit to an employee-

Who has not attained the age of sixty years. Who is permanently incapable to work as a result of disease or bodily or mental disablement.

Who has contributed for at least twelve months.

An invalidity grant is paid to an employee who has contributed for less than twelve months but more than six months.

SURVIVORS PENSION

Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 (33) states that qualification of the survivors benefit as where at the time of his death, a deceased employee was in receipt of an invalidity pension, or a retirement pension would but for his death, have satisfied the conditions set out in sub section (1) of section 26 a survivors pension shall be payable to:

Widow of the deceased. Where there is no widow, widower, any dependent children of deceased. Where there are no dependant children any other dependant of deceased. Where there are no dependents of the deceased, the estate of deceased.

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Where the contributor had qualified for a retirement grant or invalidity grant had it not been for his death, a survivors grant is paid as per the order of beneficiaries.

TIME FOR PAYMENT OF BENEFITS

Section 44 of Statutory Instrument 393 of 1993 stipulates the time of payment of benefits as follows:

In the case of periodical payments, monthly in arrears. In the case of a grant, as soon as possible after the claim has been determined. Provided that the benefit shall be paid within six weeks of the date a claim thereof is Submitted.

The law is very clear in the sense that benefits should be paid at the earliest possible time. This is the area that this research is going to analyze and find out the reasons and causes of delays in the processing of benefits payment. While NSSA requires that employers contributions be paid by the 10th of the month, failure which a surcharge or penalty is levied of up to 50% percent. There is no interest paid to beneficiaries where there are delays in processing payments. NSSA needs to look at this area and maybe avoid delays and socially protect beneficiaries.

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Social Security is about payment of benefits. NSSAs strategic plan 2009 2013 has one of its key corporate objectives: To pay short term benefits in five working days and long term benefits within thirty days of receipt of acceptable claim. Indeed the objective is to ensure that benefits are processed efficiently without delays. What remains infact therefore is the execution of those strategies.

There is need for NSSA to come up with other strategies like holding of provincial conferences if it is to cover a wide spectrum of its shareholders.

Complains of delays in processing may be caused by the fact that contributors are not adequately educated on the requirements for submission of claims with NSSA. This creates mistrust and negatively when claimants are sent back and forth to collect other documents.

Records Management NSSA is experiencing problems in the area of employer and employee database. These are challenges on its strategic plan to pay short term benefits within five working days and long-term benefits within thirty working days of receipt acceptable claim. Employers and employees records are not accurate there are duplication of employer and employee registrations, movements from one employer to the other are not up to date, despite some employers having submitted their returns and forms. The Nigeria Insurance Social Trust Fund (NSITF) (1993:14) states:

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The fund has not performed well in the management of its records and information base. The contributors have not been too happy with the funds inability to produce up-to-date statements of accounts

Unless and until NSSA revamps its information management, it will continue to hurt its contributors. This is another source of delays in the processing of benefits

Where there are no up-to-date records delays are inherent as records need to be sorted out before payments are made.

One would like to acknowledge that some employers are also to blame because of their failure to accompany remittances with schedules The source : The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (1993:14)

Indeed some employers do not bother to send application forms and or update forms to NSSA. In other cases as well employers sent their returns with remittances to NSSA but they are not actioned by the records department.

The Management of any organization depends on its accurate, up to date information. NSSA is still using an old ICT System which is lagging behind technology and some offices lack basic computer tools to manage records.

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However the authority is in the process of putting up new ICT system to improve its efficiency in the operations of its divisions including the benefits division. It is expected that the new system once put in place will reduce the turnaround time of benefits processing to world class standards.

The benefits division decentralized its long term benefits processing from Head Office to six of its Regional Offices in order to improve its efficiency in the pension delivery system. However the problems of ICT have always been experienced with regards to system down time, resulting in capturing of some benefits at Head Office again. This again is causing delays in pension payment.

National Administrators usually develop a network of regional and local administrative structures which assist in the implementation of those functions in order to provide a faster and high quality service Source: Social Security Financing (2004: 22)

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Benefits processing cycle Receipt of claim customer care Queries. Pensions Regional Office

Adjudication SBO/PBO

Receipt of Pensions (Zimpost)

Calculations (manual) (Benefits Clerks)

Pensions Payment Zimpost

Checking (manual) Senior Benefits Officer Capturing Benefits Officer Verification Senior benefits Officer Principal benefits Officer

Printing & Dispatch warrants CPO Head Office

Payments Accounts

Payroll Run ICT Head Office Checking Reports Benefits - Regions

Passing for payment Central Payments Office Head Office

Receipt of payment

Pre-run control & Reports ICT Head Office

SOURCE : NSSA INTERNAL RECORDS

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The processing of long term benefits goes through almost twelve processes. The system is semi automated as the calculation of benefits is done manually, checked manually and then captured in the benefits processing system (CPS)The verification is then done in the system and at this stage the claim is transmitted electronically to Head Office Benefits where it will be passed for payment. The ICT produces control reports and these are sent to Regional Offices for checking and correcting after which the pension payroll is then run by ICT. Delays caused by the bureaucratic processing procedures at NSSA results in an inefficient pension payment delivery system. The authority should consider disbursing pensions in places where it has its own offices especially the six regional offices to improve efficiency.

SOCIAL SECURITY STRUCTURE Social Security Financing (2004:22) States :While the structure may differ, the basic administrative functions of a social security scheme are similar. These include, for contributory schemes collecting contributions and maintaining accurate and up to date records and for all schemes calculating and paying benefits in a timely manner to the correct amount.

NSSA has these three basic functions as its core business. Although there are challenges in collection of contributions which is about 35% compliance. The records are not up to date and benefits are not paid timely.

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The benefits section is headed by a Principal Benefits Officer, deputized by three Senior Benefits Officers .Five of the benefits officers who left the department have not been replaced to date. This has affected the pension processing delivery system as there are few hands.

NSSA had in the second half of 2009 suspended all the filling of all vacant posts. This should not be the case especially vacancies in the benefits section, which is a key player in terms of social security basic structures.

The shortage of human resource has indeed affected the division causing delays in benefits processing. What it entails is that there is no way that NSSA will realize its vision if benefits divisions is not adequately resourced.

The efficiency of any system is based on how fast it is delivering its correct service to the customer and the benefits division is no exception. Where there are delays of any nature, it is a sign of inefficiency of the whole system.

ICT is not able to run pension payrolls for pensioners during working days as other users will be affected and the runs can only be done during the weekends. The result is that any delays by ICT in running the payroll will indeed delay the whole pensions delivery system resulting in efficiency.

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ICT should allow benefits sections in the regions to generate their own respective reports while they concentrate on running the overall payroll to reduce the processing turn around time. Hope is put on the new system which is in the process of being implemented.

Methods of Paying Benefits

NSSA started paying benefits after the end of September 1995. the payment methods then used where the bank deposit or cheque ,pensioner had to select which method they preferred.

In 2003 the financial sector in Zimbabwe faced problems of foreign currency to the extend that they could not obtain cheques. This affected the NSSA Social Security pension payment system. A decision was made by NSSA in the first quarter of 2004 to change the payment method of those who were paid by cheque to warrant.

This was however a noble idea, but how was this resolution communicated to the beneficiaries who were affected? The cost of postage then was prohibitive and hence a decision was made to put advertisements in the radio and all the local newspapers. The result was that many pensioners who had moved to their rural areas did not see the message. Therefore less than 25% of pensioners out of a total of 60 000 selected their post office of choice. If letters had been written there were a lot of movements caused by the agrarian reforms at that time.

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NSSA changed payment of all those who did not respond by putting the nearest post office which pertained to the pensioners last given postal address.

Communication With Pensioners

Peter Little (1978:4) defined communication as:

The process by which information is passed between individuals and or organizations by means of previously agreed symbols

How then does NSSA communicate with its pensioners? When claim forms are submitted to NSSA is an acknowledgement written in any form to advise the pensioner that his forms had been received? May be the other reason is that some of the claim forms are brought and handed personally to NSSA by the beneficiaries themselves.

The benefits processing office does not advice beneficiaries when their first payment has been paid and sent to the post office. Pensioners are advised verbally on submission of claim that they should check their pensions after a particular time period.

Before central Benefits office was decentralized to Regional offices, the department used to advise pensioners when their first payment of their social security benefit had been effected. Pensioners would then collect their pensions without problems. Although delays were inherent, there was communication

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Channel Transmitter

Medium

Receiver =============================================== -----------------------------------------------------------------------Feedback Response

Stores information and or acts and or changes altitude

Source:The fundamentals of communication : Peter Little (1978:11)

When NSSA advised its pensioners who were paid by cheques, to go to their nearest NSSA office to select a post office of their choice, they used newspapers and radios and through public meetings in organizations. However there was no previously agreed symbols and many did not get the message. Zimbabweans spend most of their time watching foreign television stations if they are in urban areas.The majority who stay in the rural areas do not have access to these communication media because they are poor. It follows therefore that where there is no feed back there was no communication.

This is one area that NSSA needs to address if it is to realize its vision by pursuing its mission statement.

NSSA places adverts in the electronic and print media and has liaison officers who educate stakeholders on NSSA and the benefits offered.

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Despite all these effort stake holders do not really appreciate the importance of NSSA. The problem could be attributed to the medium of communication being used and maybe negatively on the part of stake holders right from the beginning of the scheme on 1 October 1994. Benefits Processing Structure

The benefits office has one Principal Benefits Officer, three Senior Benefits Officers and only five officers. These are responsible for the calculations, capturing, verifying and approval of all benefits payments.

An average of 11000 claims are received each month and these have to be processed to meet the strategic processing time of thirty days, long term benefits and five days short term benefits.

The vacancies left by other benefits officers who resigned have not been filled and this has put much pressure on the department to the extend that the office is working overtime in order to clear backlogs. The long time solution is to fill the positions which are vacant which the Authority froze during the first quarter of 2009.

When employees work under pressure there is bound to be inefficiency in the delivery system in the form of errors which will increase the number of queries. The shortage of staff is coupled with the semi-automated benefits processing system.

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Kureya and Undenge (2000:35) said: Every strategy is grounded in its own set of key success factors and value chain activities so a customized organization structure is appropriate.

NSSAs benefits processing structure is not appropriate as reflected by the departments continued overtime. The activities cannot be carried out during the normal working hours.

Benefits processing is a basic component in social security and therefore should be prioritized.

There is need to ensure that the departments of human resources needs are addressed to match the current activities which is not giving staff breathing time.

CENTRAL PAYMENTS OFFICE

NSSA has six Regional offices in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Chinhoyi. NSSA also has sub offices in small towns Bindura, Hwange, Chiredzi, Gwanda, Kadoma, Marondera, Kwekwe, Karoi, Chipinge and Rusape.

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The Regional offices pay grants and also process long term pension arrears. All long term pensions are paid by the Central Payments office although the capturing, calculations and checking and verifications are done by its regional office. The sub-offices do not process any benefits but receive contributions and benefits claim forms which they then send to their respective regions.

Whenever pensioners have queries concerning payment of pensions, they approach their nearest regional office, who will then enquire with the central payments office. The central payments office will then authorize its regional office to pay the pensions manually. This pertain to cases for example, where monies were not collected and returned by any bank after a week period. Some pensioners visit the sub-office with pension payment queries, which the sub-office refers to its respective regional which will then query the central payments office. The response will then be given to the relevant region and then to the sub-office.

The above process results in delays in the pension processing delivery system. Imagine a claim form submitted at the sub office and then sent to the regional office for processing and then electronically to the Central Payments Office. NSSA should look at ways of decentralizing in full the processing and payment of all benefits to Regional offices and to allow at least the payment of the funeral grants at the sub office.

The payment are transfered to the bank individual bank accounts of pensioners. In the remote areas pensioners have to travel long distances to get their nearest banks a situation

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which is undesirable in the social protection delivery system some pensioners are very old, others to sick to travel anyway. NSSA has of late designed a system where pensioners who are not able to collect their pensions due to old age and illness can sign a power of attorney to enable a person of their choice to collect the pension on their behalf from Zimpost.

The system is quite noble but can cause problems when it is abused for instance, the pensioner may pass on and the person with the power of attorney may continue to collect the pension as long as NSSA is not informed.

NSSA needs to therefore think along the lines of having mobile banks and or mobile Zimpost to cater for those who are in the remotest areas without any service centers.

With the introduction of the multi currency in 2009 NSSA should be considering the idea of using banks to transfer pensions which are more convenient. Pensioners are able to collect their pensions after some months unlike at Post Office where it is returned if not collected for six months.

Stanford (1983:43) said :

Such questions as how many distribution centers or channels there should be where they should be located, size and product line, allocation of plant output to each center and customer

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Unfortunately for NSSA they mainly rely on POSB its distribution centers throughout Zimbabwe. An organization should not have its core business outsourced to third parties where it has no control at all. This is a major problem that NSSA is facing at the moment in the disbursement of pensions resulting in delays in the ultimate payment of pensions. CONCLUSION This chapter looked at the related literature on the subject of effectiveness of benefits payment system. It revealed the factors influence the system and possible solutions. The next chapter covers research methodology

CHAPTER 3

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.1 INTRODUCTION

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This chapter details how the researcher conducted the research and collected data. The chapter also includes discussions on research design, target population, sample and sampling technique, research instruments, validity and reliability of data, data collection procedure, data presentation and analysis and a summary of the chapter. 3.2 RESEARCH DESIGN The research was qualitative in nature. The researcher used literature review to benchmark the processing of benefits with other countries. Questionnaires were issued to pensioners and interviews were held with Nssa management and employees. Data was gathered from respondents through the questionnaires and interviews.

The researcher used statistical figures and graphs to present the research findings. The qualitative data was obtained from the questionnaires designed and distributed by the researcher.

3.3 TARGET POPULATION The research population consisted of 500 retirement pensioners, six regional managers and five benefits officers from Harare regional office.

3.4 SAMPLE AND SAMPLING TECHNIQUES Leedy (1993:180) defined a sample as a portion of the overall population that one wishes to study.

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Random sampling technique was used to sample 50 pensioners (10% of 500) who had come for enquiries at Harare regional office. The researcher used the census method to administer questionnaires to all the five benefits officers based at Harare regional office. The advantage of the random sampling technique is that it avoids bias in the research sample. Interviews were held with all the benefits staff and regional managers. 3.5 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF DATA The researcher requested two experts in the Benefits, Schemes Planning and Research Division in Nssa to pre-test the designed questionnaires and interview. Their recommendations were incorporated into the final questionnaires in respect of the pensioners and Nssa employees. The refinements to the research instruments resulted in the questions indeed addressing the research questions in respect of the pension processing. The researcher made sure that the experts consulted had the hands on experience in research work. The department from which the experts were drawn is responsible for carrying out all the research work for Nssa and hence their advice was relevant.

3.5 RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS The researcher used questionnaires and interviews as research instruments. Self administered questionnaire to probe pensioners and employees. The design of the questionnaire was critical to ensure that the correct research questions were addressed. The questionnaire allowed for anonymity which is crucial in any investigation or survey. Respondents answered questions without fear of being known. The questionnaire asked the same questions to all the respondents in the sample which resulted in the analysis being

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reliable and therefore credible. Different questions could not be used on different respondents.

The disadvantage of questionnaires is that some respondents generally do not like the business of completing questionnaires and this is more so in situations where some respondents were illiterate. The researcher used questionnaires on Nssa pensioners and interviews on Nssa employees and management. The questionnaire for interviews was designed to ensure that to ensure that the correct research questions were addressed. Interviews allowed the possibility of probing further and asking for clarifications and follow up questions. Interviews achieved a high response rate and data collection was immediate. The researcher was able to take note of the respondents body language during the interview process. However interviews were time consuming and few interviews were conducted due to costs and time constraints. A combination of questionnaires and interviews gave balanced results in the research work. The researcher being a senior officer used his influence and ensured that questionnaires were completed within a short period of time, and interviews were conducted without the problem of having to make formal appointments. 3.7 DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS The researcher used graphical output in the form of tables and graphs to present data. The use of tables and graphs allowed the researcher to present and analyses data on benefits processing efficiency more clearly and efficiently. Graphs and tables displayed findings concisely and the information presented was easy to understand and analyse. Weigner (2008:28) summed it up A picture is worth more than a thousand words.

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3.8 SUMMARY This chapter outlined the main components of the research design namely the target population, sample and sampling techniques, research instruments, validity and reliability of data, data collection procedure and data presentation and analysis.

CHAPTER VI DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS Introduction In this chapter the researcher presented and analysed qualitative data collected from questionnaires from pensioners and NSSA employees and management in the form of tables and graphs. The researcher used his experience in administering the questionnaires. Responses were given and interviews were held with respondents complemented the integrity of the results. The research was to come up with views and opinions on the

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efficiency of the pension and other benefits scheme pension processing system with a view to make recommendations to improve it. Percentages relative to the sample size were calculated. The data presented size was calculated. The data presented in this chapter relate to research questions as outlined in chapter one. Response Rate Response rate to questionnaires was one hundred percent. The researcher distributed and administered seventy one questionnaires to pensioners and twenty one questionnaires to NSSA employees and management. The researcher is an officer with NSSA and has eight years of service and he used his influence in ensuring that respondents completed questionnaires within the shortest period of time. This contributed to the high response rate. Data is presented and analysed in respect of pensioners and NSSA employees.

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