By Nokunceda Magagula
Children who are recipients of the embattled EEC Pension Fund (EECPF) were on Tuesday dumped by their parents and/or guardians at the EEC headquarters in Mbabane following the fund’s consistent failure to disburse money due to the children.
The failure of the EEC Pension Fund to disburse the beneficiaries stems from the fact that the board invested about E7 million in the Likhwane Beneficiary Fund which it further devoted to the controversial Ecsponent which allegedly squandered over E340 million hard-earned money belonging to individuals and institutional emaSwati.
This resulted in Likhwane failing to fulfil its obligation which included monthly disbursement of the beneficiaries’ monies to cover the basic needs of minors, including daily living expenses, transportation, and school fees. The Eswatini Daily News has reliably established that about 10 parents and 11 children arrived at the EEC premises at 9 a.m.
Through their spokesperson, Patricia Dlamini, they informed the receptionist that they were leaving the children in the care of EEC due to the company’s failure to meet them halfway in caring for the minors.
Before leaving the children, the parents reportedly called one of the board members of EECPF, who is the Fund’s Principal Officer, Churchboy Dlamini, informing him of their intention to leave the children.
It is alleged that Dlamini responded by telling the parents to do whatever they saw would work in their favour as they were at liberty to take any action, they deemed necessary. Upon hearing this response, the parents promptly left the building, leaving the children in an office provided by EEC staff.
The parent’s spokesperson said they had previously engaged with EEC on this matter, and EEC had written letters to different schools to allow their children into class. “However, these letters only granted children the right to education, leaving other needs like transportation costs and other necessities unaddressed,” she said.
Dlamini said that most of the parents were unemployed and relied on the fund and that was why they resorted to this to get help from the entity. Dlamini stated that some of the children were of school age but could not attend classes because of the lack of funds for school fees.
She said the youngest child brought to the office was just twenty-three months old, and the unemployed mother struggled to meet the child’s basic needs. One of the parents, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed her suffering and stated that she was expecting a death benefit of E800 000 from EECPF, which she had planned to use for her child’s tertiary education fees.
She said that EEC was causing uncalled-for stress in their lives because in the meeting they convened, they were told that EECPF was separate from ECC and should not be included in their actions which was a shock to them and showed them that the entity didn’t care about them.
As the day progressed, police were called to the EEC offices and the parents were persistent in their decision as they, through their WhatsApp group advised each other not to fear anything after the EEC brought police officers into their offices to assess the situation.
On October 13, 2023, the EEC Pension Fund Board convened a meeting for the children’s parents and guardians to discuss the issues that had been triggered by Likhwane Beneficiary Fund’s failure to fulfil its legal obligation.
In the meeting, it was discussed and agreed that the fund was going to work together with the parents and guardians in the meantime while Likhwane was busy settling its court battle with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA).
However, later on, Friday last week, through their WhatsApp group, the parents further discussed that they were not happy with the treatment they got from the EEC pension fund as they felt that their grievances were not addressed, prompting them to take radical action.
This then led to them resorting to dumping their children at the entity’s headquarters in Mbabane on Tuesday. When contacted by the Eswatini Daily News for an official comment, the EECPF Principal Officer said that he could not comment on something he did not know because he did not summon the parents to invade the ECC offices.
EECPF is one of the seven pension entities which stand to lose E17.8 million of their staff’s pension funds should the liquidation of the Likhwane Beneficiary Fund be granted by the High Court of Eswatini at the behest of the FSRA.
These other entities are the Eswatini Civil Aviation Authority Provident Fund, Eswatini Bank Pension Fund, Eswatini National Provident Fund Staff Pension Fund, Umfuso Umbrella Fund (City Council of Mbabane), and Eswatini Sugar Association Staff Provident Fund. EECPF invested E7 million into Likhwane Beneficiary Fund.