Pension Act 2023: Time to educate the masses

By Paul Chikondi Nguluwe

Since the new Pension Law was passed, assented to and published in the Gazette to give notice of its commencement date, have we ever had any deliberate programs, either on TV, Radio or newspaper to raise more awareness about the changes and what they mean for Malawians? 

I feel like most of the talk is sponsored by Pension Administrators and you know when the story is told by the hunter, praise never goes to the lion. My fear is some may end up taking steps out of misinformation. 

Do we still have the civic education component? Based on the large volumes of queries that we, as Pension Act Amendment Movement team are getting on issues concerning the  new law, the existing knowledge gap is just evident. 

Obviously, we do not have that kind of muscle to effectively address the queries being raised with speed as we would be expected. Communication technology like social media has done us a great deal in spreading the much needed information. Nevertheless, we seem to be overwhelmed. 

According to FurtherAfrica, the State of Digital Access in Malawi 2023 report shows that 24.4 percent of the total population has access to the internet, suggesting that over 75.6 percent still do not have access to the internet. With such defeating statistics, efforts to reach out to Malawians using Facebook and WhatsApp only will always remain frail. 

Isn’t this the time for the state-owned national broadcaster (Malawi Broadcasting Corporation) through its Development Broadcasting Unit to pick this issue of New Pension Law and shade more light on it to benefit more Malawians through provision of information as part of its legal mandate? 

Isn’t this the time for major media houses like Zodiak Broadcasting Station( ZBS): zikachitika Mumvera kwa Ife, Times 360 Malawi, Mibawa TV coin something in their respective programming to serve Malawians with the information they need about the new Pension Law? Institutions like YONECO FM (YFM), CHANCO COMMUNITY RADIO, Radio Maria Malawi, Timveni TV and many others should have brought something to up the awareness levels about the new Pension Law.

By the way, why have I not seen the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority – MACRA taking a step to further the spread of what the new Pension Law say and what Malawians should do to effectively benefit from it? There was a time during the SADC meeting when the chair was sending us texts messages as early as 5 am. Can’t we have something of that kind this time?

I would appreciate if the media coverage that the amendment fight is doubled or tripled this time. There are just so many people that need more information about the new Law and what they can do to benefit from it. 

Unfortunately, these are the masses that cannot be reached through Facebook and WhatsApp only. Yet they are geared to make decision with half of right information in their possession. Most likely, the result of this status quo will end up being disastrous in the long run. 

I am therefore more bent towards putting in place deliberate efforts to raise awareness on the new Pension Act. After all, the majority of us will surely come face to face with this issue of pension. It might look insignificant today, but the clock is ticking and next, it would be us making phone calls asking around what the law says about our pension.