Britain says it has no obligation to pay Zimbabwean pensioners


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Britain has reiterated that it has no obligation to pay former civil servants who worked in Zimbabwe and are now on pension because they were appointed on local terms since 1923 when the then Southern Rhodesia attained self-governance.

Minister of State, Department of International Development, Grant Shapps said this this week after he had been asked by Conservative Member of Parliament Christopher Chope whether the British government could pay the pensioners until the Zimbabwean government was able to meet its legal commitment to those employees.

“The government sympathise with the plight of those former public servants who are entitled to a Zimbabwe government pension. For years there have been problems with late payment or non-payment of pensions, and the benefits have been severely eroded. Officials from the FCO, and the British Embassy in Harare last raised Pensions with the Zimbabwean government in September,” Shapps said.

“As acknowledged by the OSPA, the responsibility for payment of these pensions rests squarely with the Zimbabwean government. The UK does not have any legal obligation or responsibility for the pensions of Zimbabwe former public service workers. This is because since 1923, the former Southern Rhodesia’s civil and public servants have been appointed on local terms. Zimbabwe public service pensioners do not qualify for the payment of overseas pensions.”

The Overseas Service Pensioners Association said pensioners who left Zimbabwe unofficially, retaining their Zimbabwe bank or building society accounts into which their pensions have continued to be paid.

 Some pensioners living in South Africa who have accounts with the Standard Bank have been receiving some pension payments since 2012, backdated to 2009.

The remainder of the pensioners have not been paid since 2003.

“OSPA representatives were able to discuss the situation with the British ambassador from Harare on her visit to London in late September. She confirmed that the state of the Zimbabwe economy was still ‘dire’, and was run on a cash basis with excessive spending on labour costs,” OSPA says on its website. 

“The Government now acknowledged its responsibility to pay all the pensions due.  But there are insufficient funds to do so until they can re-negotiate their existing debts with the international monetary institutions (the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank).”

Zimbabwe’s wage bill consumes more than 80 percent of the government budget.

 

Q & A:

 

Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch- To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if she will make finances available from her Department's budget to fund payments owed by the Zimbabwean government for former employees of the Southern Rhodesian government until such time as the Zimbabwean government is able to meet its legal commitment to those employees.

Grant Shapps The Minister of State, Department for International Development, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs- The government sympathise with the plight of those former public servants who are entitled to a Zimbabwe government pension. For years there have been problems with late payment or non-payment of pensions, and the benefits have been severely eroded. Officials from the FCO, and the British Embassy in Harare last raised Pensions with the Zimbabwean government in September.

As acknowledged by the OSPA, the responsibility for payment of these pensions rests squarely with the Zimbabwean government. The UK does not have any legal obligation or responsibility for the pensions of Zimbabwe former public service workers. This is because since 1923, the former Southern Rhodesia’s civil and public servants have been appointed on local terms.

Zimbabwe public service pensioners do not qualify for the payment of overseas pensions.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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