Teachers ‘swindled’ millions

GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

MASVINGO – Thousands of Zimbabwean teachers could have lost millions of Dollars to an unregistered insurance company, according to a warning issued by the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) this month.

IPEC has warned teachers in a statement that an organisation called Zimbabwe Teachers Investment Trust (ZITIT) that is going around offering them policies is not registered. IPEC is also investigating the organisation.

Several teachers who called The Mirror complained that they had lost thousands of dollars in policies that were then frozen by the organisation for one reason or another. Other teachers said that they were being arm-twisted and coerced into taking policies.

ZITIT president Never Kufaigore insisted that his organisation was bonafide. He said that the funeral policy that his company was operating was in-house similar to those operated by Zimta and the Harare City Council. He however could not draw the parallel between his organisation and a workers’ union like Zimta.

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Takavafira Zhou, said his union was going to help its members to recover their money from ZITIT.

“How can someone be registered on WhatsApp? That’s dubious. We are going to give our members legal assistance to recover their money,” said Zhou.

Teachers’ subscriptions to the company are done through the SSB and the joining fee is US$100 and there are subsequent monthly contributions said to be raking in millions for the organisation.

Kufaigore however, would not answer to the allegations including speculation that his organisation could be making RTGS$48 million a month.

According to a source close to the matter that requested to speak on condition of anonymity, over 30 000 unsuspecting teachers have fallen prey to the investment rip-off, paying subscriptions of US$100 once off or ZWL$1 600 per month through deductions by the Salary Service Bureau (SSB) as ZITIT is alleged to be racking in over ZWL$48 million a month. 

“IPEC’s attention has been drawn to a message circulating on social media claiming that an entity called Zimbabwe Teachers Investment Trust (ZITIT) has allegedly launched a funeral assurance plan for teachers.

“Whilst IPEC is investigating the matter, teachers are warned against buying the said policies as the entity in question is not registered as an insurance company.

“Section 7 (1) of the Insurance Act, prohibits unregistered entities from carrying out insurance business. To this end, the Commission again reminds consumers who want to buy insurance policies to only deal with registered entities,” reads a statement from IPEC.

The Mirror has established that ZITIT is run by a seven member national board with Never Kufaigore (Harare Province) as the executive president), Patricia T. Matina being Vice president (Bulawayo Province), Freddy Elard Secretary General (Mashonaland East Province), Chengetai A. Marufu Legal Secretary (Mashonaland Central Province) Leonard Kona National Treasurer (Midlands Province), Mannoni K. Mukandiwa Projects Director (Mashonaland West Province), and Ailine Dube Marketing Director (Mashonaland West Province).

Rebecca Ganja a teacher at Rukope Primary in Chiredzi said she lost all her investment in ZITIT after questioning how the scheme is being run.

“I just asked about Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC)’s press statement on ZITIT’s funeral scheme and was immediately removed from the WhatsApp group and my policy was ceased,” she said.

Lovemore Vangani, a teacher at Dunuza Primary said he was also victimised for refusing to join the ZITIT funeral policy.

“These people are ruthless, they find flimsy reasons to remove members from their scheme so that they cease their contributions,” said Vangani.   

Teachers who have become desperate because of the economic hardships are joining any investment schemes that come their way. Those who joined ZITIT are doing that online and without even consulting lawyers.

At the end of the online forms that the teachers sign is written; “By submitting my application to https://chat.whatsapp.com/ELsiET2AiRi5aBdMXMQ9JI. I am consenting to be bound by ZITIT terms and conditions.”

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