Kaputa council retirees protests of refund of their dues

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—–Retirees from the Kaputa District Council have protested over council’s decision to deduct part of their terminal benefits on grounds that they were erroneously awarded to them.

The former employees said the council has informed them that they were awarded the money wrongly and should, therefore, refund it in the case of those who were paid beyond their dues while it will deduct from those who are yet to be paid.

According to a letter of notice from the Council to the affected persons and obtained by ZANIS today, the council claimed that it erred in computing the terminal benefits of its former employers.

It argued that the council used gross salary when computing terminal benefits, the act which is illegal and is contrary to the Employment Act which is the principal law.

The letter reads in parts that management at Kaputa District Council found that it was one of those councils which used gross salaries for computing benefits for retirees, deceased and those who resigned.

It continued that the council has since revised the calculation on terminal benefits in line with the provision.

But the retirees, who stormed the District Commissioner’s offices and later ZANIS, refused to have their money deducted, claiming that the council used the right channel to calculate their terminal benefits.

Morton Kamuchele and Elijah Simiti, who spoke on behalf of the group, said the calculation of their terminal benefits were based on conditions of services.

Mr Simiti alleges that the development will mean the council claiming refund or deducting over K100, 000 from each of the 13 affected former workers.

He argued that if the council wants to correct things, management should do it with those that are retiring now or those who will retire in future.

“We cannot allow this to affect us. It is not our problem. As far as we are concerned the right channel was used to calculate our benefits basing on our conditions of service. The treasurer, both internal and external auditors approved it before it was taken to Kasama and Lusaka for approval so why change now. We advise the council that if they want to correct things, they should start with those that are retiring now or will later,” he said.

He adds: “Besides we used the same figures to plan for our future, we borrowed money and made budgets based on what we were told will be our terminal benefits.”

And Morton Kamuchele asked to look into the issue of the retirees stating that he is very appreciative of what government is currently doing to improve conditions for council workers, adding that they
should also not allow the council to punish the retirees.

Mr Kamuchele added that in his case the council has requested for a refund because they claimed to have paid him more than he was supposed to be paid under the new arrangement.

“I was waiting for the council to pay me the remaining money only to be told I was over paid and need to refund them a K14, 000. Where will I get this money to pay them” he said.

Meanwhile, Council management said they are acting on a directive from the Ministry of Local Government and Housing that has advised them on the correct procedure.

A circular from the Ministry of Local Government, dated 13th August, 2014, sent to all councils, observed that councils were wrongly computing terminal benefits using gross instead of the basic salary.

It added that the wrong computing has been inflating liabilities to councils and advised them to compute benefits on basic and not gross salary.