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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Should Zambia increase its public sector pensionable age?

President Michael Sata this week directed Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu to amend the Pensions Act to allow civil servants retire at the age of 65 and not 55 years. This will require a parliamentary majority to become law.

The President believes the current limit is unnecessary punitive on those who have the strength to work longer. Plus he is clearly trying to make the pension system more sustainable. More people working means less pay-outs. But it could also means those who retire get more worthy pension arrangements (if reforms include this component).

As part of our inaugural weekly question (across our Facebook and website pages) we are asking the following questions:

Are you in favour of increasing the public sector pension age?

A sample of responses from "properly identified persons" will be published under our new column - Readers Weekly (every Friday). Responses on Facebook can be found here


  1. Perhaps, among the factors that could necessitate the increase in the retirement age are: the increase in the country's life expectancy and therefore government is trying to avoid spending in terms of old age social assistance by keeping the old aged in the labor force; could also be as a result of shortage of labor supply, particularly the youths. From my point of view, unless other reasons that i did not mention count,current economic and social conditions may not satisfy this policy undertaking. It is probably better to first prioritize the creation of employment for the several unemployed youths.

  2. Do you consider me "properly identified?"



  3. Absolutely not! First and foremost, Zambia has a lot of unemployed youths, many of whom are graduates from our universities and colleges, who are on the queue for the same jobs our parents are holding on to (or will be forced to hold on to).Secondly, my personal research has indicated that most people who are about to retire at the current retirement age of 55 are already showing signs of unproductiveness and all the signs associated with old age such as amnesia and short temperedness! Therefore, retaining such in the service will inevitably impenge upon development and curtail all efforts at alleviating unemployment in this country. If the President wants to save on money meant for retirement packages, considering that most of our parents may die before retiring at 65 (i mean, its not a secret that our life expectancy is much much lower than 65), he should go back to the drawing board and do a proper rethink! Otherwise,all said, this is one of the first political mistakes the PF government is going to make, and posterity will judge them harshly for this silly mistake!

  4. In summary, i don't see any significant social or, most importantly, economic justification for coming up with such a decision. In fact it is a cost to the economy because it comes at the expense of more energetic and highly productive youths.

    I somehow tend to think it was a political decision to try to sway people to accept the notion of including old people to run the affairs of the nation, as is clear that most people in the PF government are very old.

  5. the pensions system cannot be made sustainable by "postponding" payout for the next 10years. what is true is that gov its self will saver some amounts by not having new entries on pension for the 10years. people stand to loose anyway.

  6. one reason life expectancy is below 65 because nearly 20% of infants under 5 years die. I know many retired 55+ who get other jobs straight away - nurses and teachers for example.Better arv's make people to live longer and why do you want to sit around all day when you could be supporting your family?

  7. does this work elsewhere? zambia still has the lowest life expectancy in the world (despite also having the highest literacy level in Africa), so is it not likely this move will result in more dying before having any chance to collect benefits leaving their families to run circles round a paper trail? perhaps other options for both young & elderly are needed.

  8. If this is done it must be phased in gradually not abruptly. The benefits would be fewer pensions to pay out and a more experienced work force. The costs would be fewer employment opportunities for the newly qualified youth and fewer new businesses starting up (retirees at 55years all go into business or farming if they get their benefits) An alternative might be to make the age optional within a range with a sliding pension scale; the longer you wait before retiring, the higher the pension.
    An immediate boost to the economy could be achieved by paying out all benefits due. It all gets invested in business. Some of the best emergent farmers I have met recently are retired teachers.

  9. R. Henson,

    Like if I dropped on a drum, all my marbles at once, I am likely to make beautiful music, unlike the monotonous one-drop-at-a-time sort of ding-dong pulse. I like your sense of awry adventure and experimentation, bungee jump! Just what would happen if we tickle them this way.

  10. I had it all planned out. Postponing my adventure for another 10 years will just kill me!

  11. The public service pension fund is closed to new entrants so it may just increase the pension debt , if no further reforms are done to the pension system especially that 2/3 pension amount is commuted for cash. However, labour wise the labour force survey shows that the participation rates for 55 years plus is high so increasing the retirement age my not escalate unemployment statistically, however informality may increase as a result of less public sector jobs


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