Zimbabwe is seeking help from the retirement industry to compensate pensioners who lost their savings due to hyperinflation and the collapse of the local currency in 2009. The adoption of the US dollar left Zimbabwe dollar-denominated investments worthless, leaving many pensioners in poverty.
Compensating the affected pensioners is crucial for restoring confidence in the retirement industry, Bloomberg reported citing a statement by Grace Muradzikwa, the head of the state regulator, the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC). She said in a statement on Monday:
"It is right, fair, proper and desirable for those affected by the loss to receive some compensation from relevant pension funds and insurers and from the state. The industry has the capacity to compensate eligible members to the fullest extent practicable."
The payment plan to compensate pensioners who lost their savings during a period of hyperinflation and currency collapse will cover the nine-year period up to February 2009, specifically focusing on savings held in Zimbabwe dollars. Pension funds and insurers have until the end of the year to submit the total amount owed to eligible pensioners, and payouts are expected to begin in March 2024.
The country’s retirement industry currently holds Z$9.14 trillion ($1.6 billion) in assets, with nearly one million people holding policies. Real estate and equity investments are the main sources of income for the sector, which experienced an 800% stock market rally earlier this year, strengthening its asset base.
However, concerns have been raised about the compensation framework. Imara Asset Management, the country’s largest independent asset manager, warned that the government’s demand for compensation issued through the IPEC could pose risks to the entire industry. The compensation process seems to exclude the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), the national statutory pension body, which raises questions about the fairness of the process and its potential negative impact on the industry.