The Registrar General’s Office has been instructed to capture the biometric data of pensioners according to a report by New Zimbabwe. This initiative was recommended by the Public Services Commission of Zimbabwe (PSC) and is aimed at fighting corruption in the pension system.
This announcement is hardly surprising because the government has for some time been making a concerted push towards biometric data collection to ensure that whatever money it is dolling out is going to actual people. I am sure you remember the numerous reports of ghost workers on the government’s payroll.
In 2018 there were a reported 70,000 “irregular employees” who were either ghost workers or double salaried. President Emmerson Mnangagwa that year said that the govt was working on a measure that would make biometric registration mandatory if govt employees want to get their salaries.
“A time-lined raft of measures on that front will be announced soon, including an exercise in developing a biometric register of all civil servants on Government payroll which should eliminate leakages through ghost workers.“
In 2019 this was said to have come to pass as Civil Servants were instructed to undergo biometric registration if they wanted to continue receiving their salaries. It looks like the net of biometric registration is now coming to pensioners as well and this program is, according to the same report by New Zimbabwe, said to have the 31st of August 2021 as its deadline. And if an individual wants to continue collecting their benefits they will have to meet this obligation.
However, what was not in the report was how this exercise was going to be carried out. We are in the midst of the third wave of the pandemic and pensioners are among the most vulnerable. So to have them congregate in one place to have the biometric information logged might not be wise. I say this because the 31st of August is a very tight deadline and there will be a rush to have this process completed.
Hopefully, there is a way for pensioners to do this that doesn’t put them in harm’s way.