Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Parliamentarians want the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and medical aid societies to be regulated by the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) or a similar body to improve transparency and ensure that the public contributor receives the benefits provided.
The deputies said so during the debate on the bill to amend the Insurance and Pensions Commission which is before the National Assembly.
The bill seeks to improve the operations of IPEC to regulate the insurance industry for the benefit of the public.
However, lawmakers want the NSSA and medical aid companies to be included in organizations regulated by IPEC.
The NSSA and the Medical Aid Societies come under the Ministries of Civil Service, Labor and Social Care and Health and Child Care.
Dzivarasekwa lawmaker Mr Edwin Mushoriwa said it was important that the NSSA and medical companies be regulated in the same way banks were under the supervision of the RBZ.
“I will move and suggest that we need to ensure that clause 4(1)(a) of the main statute should and should be amended to include the NSSA and medical aid societies in organizations regulated by IPEC” , he said.
“This is the platform we have. We need to empower IPEC. We need to empower IPEC. Let’s give IPEC as much power as possible. It is wrong, in my view, that the Honorable Minister (Finance and Economic Development) says that IPEC does not have the capacity and yet he thinks that the Minister of Civil Service and Social Welfare has more capacity than IPEC or to say that the Ministry of health has more capacity than IPEC.
“It’s not good. If you look at the RBZ, no banking institution can do whatever they want, including state banks like the ZB. If you look at all the banks where the government owns the majority of actions, they are all accountable to the RBZ. That’s what we want under this.
Zanu PF chief whip Cde Pupurai Togarepi said some organizations are venturing into health insurance to evade regulation.
“One experience I had was seeing an insurance company that ran health insurance,” he said. “After being strictly regulated by IPEC, they would migrate to medical aid societies where they are unregulated.
“Where they come from, they have already stolen people’s money and can now move on to another line of business that is doing the same thing. Now, because there’s this freedom in this industry where people don’t have enough confidence to oversee the strength of credentials of these companies, they’ll just go to medical aid companies and run away from IPEC.
Cde Togarepi said that the main expertise required in the field of insurance was actuarial science and that IPEC had these skills.
“There could be other reasons,” he said. “If there are areas where medical help would need doctors, a doctors association, the ministry or whoever, those areas can remain regulated by those people.
“However, the part of the titles or the part of the soundness which will then cause problems when a medical aid company fails to fulfill its obligations must be regulated by a competent institution which can deal with title issues.
Harare East lawmaker Mr Tendai Biti said corruption scandals that had been uncovered at the NSSA in the past called for strict regulation in order for the organization to fulfill the mandate for which it was established.
“So to leave this huge, monolithic known as NSSA, Hon. Mr. President, we will not do our job as elected MPs,” he said. “NSSA must be regulated and deregulated by IPEC. If the minister’s fear is that IPEC doesn’t have the capacity, let’s give it the capacity now.
“We can listen to an argument from the Minister or anyone saying create a separate regulator for them, but to say they should just be released, we as MPs would have failed in our duty. One of our main responsibilities is that of supervision. Musikavanhu’s representative, Cde Joshua Murire, said the NSSA needed to be regulated to ensure it remained responsive to workers’ needs.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof. Mthuli Ncube acknowledged lawmakers’ concerns and adjourned debate on the matter for further consultations as it was a major amendment that was being proposed.