Policy holders and pensioners to fully enjoy their rights and benefits- President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Policy holders and pensioners to fully enjoy their rights and benefitsPresident Emmerson Mnangagwa

 Noah Kupeta

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangangwa during the official opening of the 2019 Second Session of the 9th Parliament, emphasising that the ultimate objective on the amendment of the Insurance Act is to protect the policy holders and pensioners so that they fully enjoy their rights and benefits.

HARARE, Government is pursuing comprehensive insurance and pension legislative reforms with renewed vigour to protect policy holders and pensioners so that they fully enjoy their rights and benefits, President Mnangagwa has said.

He said government is concerned with the emergence of monopolies as well as cartels which stifle competition and engage in unjustified price hikes in the business sector.

“The Insurance and Pension Act will be amended to enhance good corporate governance.

“The Pension and Provident Funds Bill, is designed to ensure compliance with International Standards.

“The ultimate objective is to protect the Policy holders and pensioners so that they fully enjoy their rights and benefits,” he said.

There have been concerns by the insurance industry stakeholders to fully regulate medical aid societies in line with best international standards and health medical provisions in Zimbabwe.

As such, government will leave no stone unturned in its quest to ensure that policy holders and pensioners receive a dignified service from the insurance and pension industry.

Information from the Insurance and Pension Commission (IPEC) website reveals that the regulatory board is currently working on a cocktail of measures to bring sanity and order to the industry.

“Trustees are responsible for ensuring that pension fund schemes are run professionally, honestly and efficiently and in the best interest of the members.

“They are the custodians of pension funds’ assets and they have responsibility to ensure value creation and preservation of assets supporting liabilities to scheme members,’’ said IPEC.

This development comes at a time when the Insurance Act is currently under spotlight due to some loopholes that fail to curtail malpractices in the industry.

IPEC, the country’s regulator, is on record calling for the regulation of medical aid societies and government owned National Social Security Authority (NSSA) with futile success.

The Insurance Act clearly states that “any person who carries on any class of insurance business in Zimbabwe without being registered as an insurer in that class of insurance business shall be guilty of

an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level fourteen or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both such fine and such imprisonment”.

Fidelity Life Assurance general manager marketing Melanie Gumbo said they remain guided by IPEC and the Insurance Act.

‘We are not yet aware of the proposed amendment to the Insurance Act.

‘However we continue to work closely with our regulator IPEC in any reviews to regulations,’ she said.

The insurance sector just like any other business, is called upon to come up with a fair and reasonable pricing system for their various premiums and policies.

Besides the policy holders and pensioners, meanwhile, President Mnangagwa futher noted that government will not revert to price controls, authorities are in the process of reviewing the Competition Act in order to introduce deterrent penalties to combat business malpractices.

The development comes at a time when government is fighting against corruption in all sectors of the economy such as the health sector.

“The Medical Aid Societies Bill will pave way for the establishment of the Medical Aid Society Regulatory Authority.

“This Bill seeks to ensure that Medical Aid Societies operate within the law as health care insurers, rather than doubling up as health care providers,’’ he said.

Regionally, South Africa for instance, recently launched a Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum (HSACF) aimed at   establishing a universal health care as part of life assurance policy in the country.

Speaking to SABC news channel 404, South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his willingness to a universal health care provision.

“The Forum emanates from the 2018 Presidential Health Summit 2018 Compact which mandated government and social partners to work together to reform the healthcare system.

“When people are corrupt in the health care system, the victims are immediately identifiable and the victims are the poorest in our country and the most vulnerable in society.

“Corruption impoverishes people and it also violates their constitutional right to health and it also costs lives because in other instances people literally die.

“The Forum is a collaboration among government, business and civil society organisations aimed at preventing, detecting and prosecuting malfeasance in the health sector,” said Ramaphosa.

African governments are encouraged to take bold steps in medical insurance with clear policies.

In his High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in New York, at the just ended United Nations 2019 annual general meeting, Rwandan President Paul Kagame called on African governments to come up with sound health regulatory policies that meet international standards.

“Health insurance is the foundation of our policy framework.

‘More than 90 percent of the Rwandan population is now covered with a mixture of community-based and private schemes.

‘Of course, barriers to achieving high-quality Universal Health Coverage persist, in Rwanda as well as elsewhere around the world.

‘It is the responsibility of everyone gathered here, to take the lead in addressing these gaps, and leave behind a legacy of Universal Health Coverage for future generations.

‘It is possible, said President Kagame.”

Policy holders and pensioners have been for a long time calling the relevant government authorities to bring sanity in the insurance sector.

The insurance and pension industry is a critical player in socio economic development of a nation hence there is need for proper regulatory mechanisms.