By Phephile Motau
Dissenting views have delayed the conversion of the Eswatini National Provident Fund (RENPF) to a pension fund.
These were the assertions of the Minister of Labour and Social Security Phila Buthelezi during the ENPF fifth annual stakeholder forum held at the Happy Valley on Thursday.
The forum involved both employee and employer representatives. Employee representatives wanted to know from the minister what has caused the delay. This was after the minister stated in his address that on May 16, the bill for the conversion was tabled in Cabinet.
ATUSWA Secretary General Wander Mkhonza said since his whole hope was on ENPF, five years ago, they were told that the process was near completion, but this was not the case even now.
Minister Buthelezi said there were many dissenting views on the issue of the conversion to be considered which was why the process was being delayed. He said one hot issue was the inclusion of civil servants in the conversion, which was being contested.
He said public sector employees did not want to be included, yet they had the numbers which would make the conversion sustainable. He explained that in the end, everyone should believe in the fund and have their views heard. He said they now have two bills in Cabinet, the first one which involves civil servants, and the second one does not. He said it would be a matter of choice.
In his speech, the minister said one of the issues that have been common in all the forums they have held is that of the ENPF conversion Bill.
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“It is a pleasure to advise the stakeholders that greater milestones have been achieved in this regard, and as we speak the Bill was presented to Cabinet on the 16th of May 2023, and the major challenge was whether the civil servants should or shouldn’t be part of the proposed scheme,” he said.
Buthelezi said discussions were held on the pros and cons of not including them, and, from a social security point of view, there is a disadvantage in excluding them, everyone knew that the bigger the numbers the better the benefits. However, without civil servants, the scheme can operate successfully and be sustainable.
Meanwhile, the forum was also attended by Muyangwa Muyangwa who told of Zambia’s experience in conveying their provident fund. Eswatini is learning good practices from Zambia on the conversion.