Zanzibar implements a Universal Pension Scheme (ZUPS) in line with the ILO Recommendation 202

More than 21,000 old persons start benefitting from the scheme.

Press release | 10 June 2016
Dar es Salaam (ILO News) - Following a recommendation from the ILO Social Protection Expenditure Review of 2010, the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) of Zanzibar has been in charge of designing the Zanzibar implements a Universal Pension Scheme (ZUPS) targeted at providing income security to the old persons in Zanzibar.

Although the law has not been finalized yet, the universal old age pension covers all Zanzibar residents from the age of 70 onwards. With time, this age is planned to be reduced progressively to legal retirement age of 60, based on the economic performance at the isles.

Beneficiaries need to be residents for at least 10 years between 18 and the age of retirement. As a fully universal beneficiary, a pensioner from the Zanzibar Social Security Fund (ZSSF - social insurance) will cumulate both pensions, as well as any other sources of income. However, the majority of the working population in Zanzibar have been in informal employment and do not receive any benefit from ZSSF.

The first payment for the scheme for 21,263 old persons was effected in April 2016, each receiving monthly pension of 20,000 Tanzanian Shillings (9.2 USD). Older persons from eleven districts of Unguja and Pemba participated in this inaugural exercise. This minimum pension is planned to progressively increase as well. This first step in terms of income security has also some impacts in Tanzania Mainland, where the debate on the introduction of such a scheme has already started.

The above event took place at one of the pay points, Kiembe Samaki, Western District, in the presence of the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. Khalid Salim Mohammed and the Minister of Labour, Empowerment, The Elderly, Youth, Women and Children, Hon. Moudline C. Castico, as well as representatives of older people.

Hon. Castico declared that “…we promise you that we will monitor the scheme with all our strengths to ensure that all eligible older people get registered, get their benefits on time and that no abuse of government resources in the programme”. She further added that the government will continue collaborating with all key partners, including non-governmental organisations to ensure the objectives of the ZUPS are realised.

The old age pension scheme has become a government priority, which fully finances it. As such, ZUPS constitutes a key component of the Zanzibar Social Protection Floor, in line with the ILO Recommendation No. 202 (2012). This income security component is expected to be complemented by a better access to health care in the near future.

One of the representatives from Zanzibar Older People Association (JUWAZA) overwhelmingly commented that, “Today is the national launching of the Zanzibar Universal Pension which provides benefits for all older people aged 70 years and above. This monthly payment is a victory for older people of Zanzibar.”

Background Information

Following the ILO tripartite training on social protection in Zanzibar on 28-29 April 2016, the ILO plans to continue to build capacity of its tripartite constituents and will support initiatives contributing to a Zanzibar social protection floor.

It is encouraging to note that the DSW, with support from the government, are already collecting a series of data about the beneficiaries, which should be integrated into a forthcoming Management Information System so as to strengthen the operationalization of the scheme.