Why pension funds need to solve this teachers’ jinx

15Jan 2016
The Guardian
Why pension funds need to solve this teachers’ jinx

COMPLAINTS on delays in pensions to teachers have been on the increase despite efforts being made by government and pension funds to address the problems

A striking teacher

Only recently, Samson Mkotya, chairman of the Dodoma Tanzania Teachers Union was quoted saying the union is overwhelmed by cases of teachers seeking their rightful dues many months and years after retirement.
He said, many teachers in the region are highly disappointed with the delays in pension payment delays that have virtually forced them to live very precarious lives despite the great service they had done to the nation in the past.
Every month as teachers, just like other workers make contributions to social security funds from their salary deductions, but what is surprising is that after retirement the same, particularly, the teachers are not paid their benefits promptly.
One of the affected teachers, Esther Mahenge (60) complained that while she retired in September last year she is yet to receive her pension and this is despite the frequent visits she makes to the pension fund offices.
During the election campaigns last year party leaders were heard making big promissory notes, some saying they would leave no stone unturned as far as payment of retirees’ pensions is concerned.
Then CCM candidate, President John Magufuli was categorical saying his government would make sure that issues of longstanding teacher’s complaints on salary arrears, pension benefits, leave claims and other dues would be solved “the very moment he comes to power.”
He is not the only government leaders to have made such a promissory note. The immediate previous Tanzanian president had also made such a pledge—and so were the other ones.
In fact, former President Kikwete assured the teachers that he would solve their problems once and for all before the October General Election last year when he addressed more that 1,000 teachers from all-over the country during the 5th Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) general meeting.
With more complaints cropping up now, many retirees would think that the campaign promises were not meant to be real but were only aimed at gaining political leverage in the just ended elections.
Let it be understood that teachers more than any other group were key stakeholders in the General Election. Among the officials who participated in the electoral process with many of them spending sleepless nights, transporting the ballot boxes to the voting centres and the like were teachers.
Yet teachers are among the working cadres who face many problems ranging from outstanding claims of annual leaves, transfer allowances, promotions and salary increments.
Others are shoddy working conditions like teaching in overcrowded classrooms, unhealthy rooms and housing problems.
While we are appreciative of government efforts in its attempt to solve these problems, we still believe that more can be done to bolster the teacher’s welfare, more so after retirement.
It is because of this that we call on the government and the pension funds to ensure that they settle retirees payment on time not only as a way of ensuring them their rightful dues, but as a way of attracting more members to build up the funds.