Teachers in Senga Hill and Mbala districts find themselves trapped in a financial mess, inadvertently contributing to the coffers of the Zambia State Insurance Corporation – ZISC Life, even though they never signed up for the insurance scheme.
This startling revelation has galvanised a chorus of discontent among affected civil servants and the teachers' union, who are now rallying for refunds and calling for strict adherence to established business protocols.
ZISC Life is a prominent insurance provider in Zambia, offering a range of life insurance policies to individuals seeking financial protection for their loved ones and pension fund administration. While many Zambians voluntarily opt for their services, there have been recent reports of individuals who discovered deductions from their bank accounts or paychecks towards ZISC Life, despite never having enrolled in the insurance program.
MakanDay has established that in recent times ZISC Life has been deducting money from teachers in the two districts without their consent. This has particularly impacted newly recruited teachers, as reported by affected individuals in the region.
Barbra Chitamaluka, a grade teacher at a school in Senga Hill, discovered that K500 was being deducted from her payslip by ZISC Life, despite not having signed up for any insurance policy with them. She promptly contacted the district's human resources department, which put a stop to the deductions. However, she is still awaiting a refund for the unauthorised deduction.
John Chalwe, deputy head teacher at a school in Mbala District, revealed that several teachers under his jurisdiction have also experienced deductions for policies they never enrolled in. These deductions range between K500 and K1,000 per month.
Teachers’ unions such as the Secondary School Teachers Union (SESTUZ) and the Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZANUT) have received multiple complaints from their members. They have advised the affected teachers to follow the appropriate channels of communication to register their complaints.
Lazarus Sinyangwe, the ZANUT Chairperson for Mbala, expressed concern over the difficulties faced by teachers in obtaining refunds, despite following the correct procedures. He also questioned the source of classified information leaked to the insurance company.
Shadrack Simutowe, SESTUZ Senga Hill Secretary, added that teachers in Senga Hill district have similarly fallen victim to unauthorided deductions, with amounts ranging from 180 kwacha to K1,000. Complaint letters have been submitted to the District Education Office and ZISC Life, but no resolution has been reached. Affected teachers have been waiting for refunds for over six months without any progress.
Radio Luswepo, investigating the matter, reviewed the payslips of affected teachers in both Senga Hill and Mbala districts. Their findings confirmed that ZISC Life had been deducting sums as high as K500 to K1000 from civil servants who had not subscribed to their services.
Wilfred Chilala, the Mbala District Education Board Secretary, acknowledged receiving numerous reports from affected teachers. He expressed confusion over how classified information had been leaked to ZISC Life, asserting that his office does not share any personal information without the consent of individuals concerned.
Chilala summoned ZISC Life management to understand how this breach occurred. The company manager of the Mbala branch claimed ignorance of the situation, suggesting that the blame should not be placed solely on the insurance provider.
Nabwalya Vlahakis, the Public Relations Officer for ZISC Life, stated that the company was unaware of the illegal deductions on the affected teachers' payslips. She assured that a fact-finding mission would be initiated to identify loopholes in the system. Vlahakis mentioned involving security personnel to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Financial experts say, the implications of this situation extend beyond ZISC Life. It serves as a reminder that regulatory bodies and industry stakeholders should prioritise stringent checks and balances to safeguard consumer rights and prevent unauthorised financial transactions.
The Pension and Insurance Authority (PIA), the regulatory body for the insurance sector, has not yet responded to MakanDay’s request for comment regarding the leaked personal data to an insurance company.
Angela Mtambo is a talented Mbala-based journalist. She recently secured an internship placement as the runup in the prestigious inaugural MakanDay media awards.
Photo credit: Zisc Life website