Social safety nets expanding: Tjivikua

Since the Avid saga where some N$30m vanished, the Social Security Commission’s (SSC) image has been marred with controversy and its corporate standing questioned. Enter, Kanandei Tjivikua, popularly known as Kapara.

“SSC required unique business leadership capabilities and I am able to provide that. I believed that I could provide value and be an asset to the organisation. So I decided to take the job, because I was drawn to the vision of SSC and the possibilities of my contribution towards that vision,” says the Executive Officer.

Since the Millennium Development Goals are aimed at ensuring that citizens of all countries enjoy a good standard of living through improved healthcare, education, income levels, among others, the SSC is in the process of introducing the National Medical Benefit Fund (NMBF) and the National Pension Fund (NPF) as per its mandate.

These products should be able to contribute positively to the upliftment of people’s standards of living due to improved healthcare access as well as ensuring decent living standards for the retired.

To start with, Tjivikua defends the paradigm shift that he has taken a year ago, totally different from the previous management, arguing for instance that his increase of managerial positions is in line with a new strategy and a business plan that will guide the operations and activities of SSC over the next five years.

“From the strategic level, this included a revision of the corporate vision and mission as well as the implementation of the Development Fund and intensifying the implementation of outstanding funds like the National Pension Fund (NPF) and the National Medical Benefit Fund (NMBF) amongst others,” he says.

The recruitment of managerial positions was necessitated to meet new demands and challenges in extending the social protection floor to the total Namibian workforce. The new structure allows better co-ordination and streamlining of activities to ensure a high performance culture and service delivery for SSC.

But effecting changes has come with its own challenges mainly as his actions mostly require the involvement of key stakeholders, such as trade unions, Government and employers as well as the management and staff.

“Even if agreements have not been finalised on all the raised issues and their suggested approaches and it is inevitable that we agree to disagree. However, a compass has been developed in the form of a corporate strategy and a business plan that will guide the activities and operations of SSC.”

SSC has five branches and five satellite offices throughout the country (excluding the Windhoek Office). A mobile van was recently acquired in order to service our clients and members in places where we do not have physical offices, inclusive of operators in the informal sector.

The positions of chief compliance officer and manager: Revenue & Debt Management have been filled and Tjivikua is now working on ensuring that accuracy and existence of debtors.

“It will not happen in a short period of time, to move from one extreme to another. We need to do things in a systematic way,” he adds.

But his greatest challenge is more technical than human. According to Tjivikua, the Commission’s database is dependent on the accurate and timeous declarations made by employers about the salaries of their employees. Additionally, the Commission’s electronic systems are outdated and adds to production backlogs.

Over the last five years, SSC has improved the maternity benefit payment from a mere N$2 400 in 2007 up to the current N$10 000 per month, which is a considerable improvement, taking into account that contributions have been kept at a maximum of only N$54 per employee.

“This has come as a huge relief for female employees who miss out on full salaries while on maternity,” adds Tjivikua.

Last year alone, SSC received more than 17 000 claims for maternity leave, which resulted in an amount of more than N$81m paid out.

“It is thus our position that more and more female members are claiming their maternity benefits from the SSC rather than using the annual leave and that we expect even more maternity leave claims as these benefits are improved periodically.”

To address deficiencies that exist within the whole social security sector, Tjivukua plans to take a leading role in dialogue, which hopefully may lead to the consolidation of the fragmented social security schemes into a robust, comprehensive and coherent national scheme.

It is envisaged that this will further lead to the realisation of economies of scale, improved benefits and enhanced administration as well as delivery capacity. Such an approach will undoubtedly aid in extending social security coverage to the uncovered sections of the population.

‘After all, we serve the nation that has entrusted us to do full justice to the purpose of furthering social security and development in Namibia’, he emphasizes.

The SCC Development fund In line with the Social Security Act, the Social Security Commission’s Development Fund (SSC-DF) continues to provide financial assistance towards training and employment schemes as well as bursaries and study loans to unemployed Namibians who are from the socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Over the next five years, the SSC-DF plans to award 230 full bursaries and 197 study loans to deserving students in various fields.

Over the next five years, (SSC-DF) plans to spend about N$60m on training schemes, while another N$175m will be spent on employment schemes.

To this end SSC has special focus on areas such as educational development, child welfare/orphans and vulnerable children, health and safety, sports development, youth development and natural disasters. Last year alone, the SSC spent more than N$300 000 on its corporate social responsibility projects, to prove that they mean what they are for; social safety.

Tjivikua sees SSC other than a world class service provider focusing on among others
• Expansion of social security coverage to the informal sector;
• Speeding up the implementation of the National Pension Fund and the National Medical Benefit Fund;
• Risk Management;
• Improving operational efficiencies;

He remains by the the Commission’s efforts to extend the social protection floor to more sectors, including the informal sector and the unemployed.

To him this is an indication that the Commission is moving in the right direction to ensure that Namibia meets its developmental goals. It is satisfying to know that benefits and services offered by the Commission as a whole make a difference in the lives of the ordinary beneficiaries and the country at large.

SSC is one institution which is delivering its mandate and whose impact is directly felt by the ordinary working Namibians and their dependants. To add weight to his argument he highlights some notable deliverables such as:

━ Through evaluation of problem areas, backlogs and omissions of the past, a clearer understanding has been formulated as to priorities in the areas of data integrity, process misalignment, systems inadequacies, competency deficiencies and deficiencies in service follow-through; many of these areas are now being addressed through projects.
━ Significant progress in governance have been implemented and enforced, which has enhanced consistency and integrity in the board and management actions. In this context, the institutionalisation of a robust committee structure aids transparent and inclusive decision making.
━ Internal audits and risk are establishing greater focus as to audit priorities and have provided room for a risk assessment framework.
━ The launch of projects to research and establish implementation requirements for the national pension and medical aid funds.
━ Roll-out plans are in place to open new offices in order to achieve better reach out to members across the country.
━ The formal establishment of the Development Fund unit came with the appointment of a manager and the clarification of the purpose, scope and regulations of the Fund governed by a policy, hence has been fully operationalised. PF