The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) plans to sue the government over its move through the Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) to force pension fund members to access benefits only after attaining the retirement age of 55 years.
Presenting the Centre’s Human Rights Situation Report covering January to June this year, the LHRC Executive Director Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba said the legality of the provision was questionable since the amendment was done without consulting the owners of the benefits or members.
She said the laws on social security funds and those guiding the authorities were amended and approved by the National Assembly on April 13, this year.
She said according to the current law, the withdrawal of benefits by workers who quit their jobs have been canceled and can only be accessed upon attaining the retirement age of 55 years.
“This provision was amended in favour of the benefit holders and not users and worse still members are not properly represented,” she noted.
She argued that the life span in Tanzania is only around 45 years, questioning the rationale of waiting until one was 55 years to access the benefits.
Dr Kijo-Bisimba said the centre will challenge the laws on social security funds and those which were amended and approved by the National Assembly on April 13th this year which prevent the workers from getting their pensions before attaining 55 years of age.
The activists challenged the government over misuse of members’ funds for the construction of UDOM, Kigamboni Bridge and many other such projects, doubting whether the funds would be paid back.
Dr Kijo-Bisimba said inflation rate has not been considered as per international protection standards under the International Labour Organization.
“The ILO set an instrument which was adopted at its 35th session in June 1952, popularly known as ‘Social Security (minimum Standards) Convention No. 102.
“Itemized number of contingencies and benefits required in the minimum standards convention include’ Old Age, Invalidity, Survivorship, Employment Injury, Maternity, Medical Care, Sickness, Unemployment and Death,” she said.
Quoting Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10th December 1948; social protection is a human rights issue and Article 11(1) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, she said there is still inadequate coverage of social security services to the Tanzanian Society.
The report has also pointed out that the right to life was highly denied through a number of factors including killings due to witchcraft beliefs and gender based violence.
Dr Kijo-Bisimba mentioned some of the factors as mob violence, extra judicial killings, child brutality, lawlessness, domestic violence and harassment of human rights defenders.
The pointed to the endless medics demo, lack of facilities and equipments, shortage of staffs and poor management as some of the issues affecting the health sector.
For his part, the LHRC researcher, Onesmo Olenguruma said for the past six months incidents of extra judicial killings and police brutality, have continued to be reported.
He said at least 20 people lost their lives in the hands of security officers such as park wardens, private security guards, police officers and army officers. At the same time it was further reported that at least three police officers were killed by civilians in different areas in the country.
Concerning brutality against women and children the report shows that 3,074 of women and children were raped out of 3,664 who were brutally treated in various places in the country with Dar es salaam leading in those incidents.