Hope for the busi­ness of death

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FEATURE -

“I was up to date in terms of pay­ing my monthly pre­mi­ums. When my fa­ther passed on, I tried but failed to get in touch with the fu­neral as­sur­ance com­pany. I was shocked to dis­cover that I was mak­ing pay­ments to a non-ex­is­tent com­pany,” nar­rated Mr Mag­wizi.

Stranded, Mag­wizi’s fam­ily re­sorted to us­ing the ser­vices of a fu­neral par­lour whose agents were milling, like vul­tures, around the hos­pi­tal morgue seek­ing to bail out those that would have fallen prey to the ma­raud­ing fu­neral as­sur­ance fraud­sters.

Play­ers in this in­dus­try high­lighted the ex­tent of the chal­lenges they are fac­ing.

The play­ers were, how­ever, hope­ful that their woes will soon be­come a thing of the past.

Mr Erasmus Chiridza, the MD of Foun­da­tion Mu­tual Society, be­moaned the in­flux of bo­gus op­er­a­tors.

“A lot of peo­ple see the fu­neral as­sur­ance sec­tor as a busi­ness in which one can make easy money. Un­li­censed fu­neral as­sur­ance com­pa­nies are not guided by ethics. Peo­ple are be­ing de­frauded of their hard-earned cash,” Mr Chiridza said.

Added Mr Chiridza: “The bad part is that, it is us, the li­cenced firms that will suf­fer the most. We are of­ten painted with the same brush,” Mr Chiridza said.

Dr Solomon Chikanda, the pres­i­dent of the Zim­babwe As­so­ci­a­tion of Fu­neral As­sur­ers (ZAFA) high­lighted some of the chal­lenges that the fu­neral as­sur­ance sec­tor is fac­ing.

“The pres­ence of un­li­censed fu­neral as­sur­ance firms is greatly af­fect­ing our op­er­a­tions. Bu­l­awayo has prob­a­bly the high­est num­ber of un­li­censed com­pa­nies. Be­sides tar­nish­ing the im­age of our in­dus­try, un­li­censed fu­neral as­sur­ance firms are also eat­ing into our tur­key,” Dr Chikanda said.

Dr Chikanda sug­gested a raft of mea­sures that he said will help bring san­ity to this es­sen­tial in­dus­try.

“We are seek­ing Gov­ern­ment sup­port in mat­ters to do with the avail­abil­ity of fuel. Our kind of busi­ness hinges much on the avail­abil­ity of fuel. It will also be ben­e­fi­cial to us if some of the equip­ment that we use is al­lowed into the coun­try duty free,” Dr Chikanda said.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Chikanda, the charg­ing of ve­hi­cle spares in United States dol­lars has neg­a­tively af­fected the in­dus­try.

Calls have been made by other play­ers in the in­dus­try for Gov­ern­ment to con­sider scrap­ping the tax that fu­neral as­sur­ance pol­icy hold­ers’ pay.

This, ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts, will help in­crease the up­take of fu­neral as­sur­ance poli­cies.

Play­ers in this in­dus­try be­moaned the lack of mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion for ru­ral and the in­for­mal mar­kets.

“There is need the im­prove­ment in mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion for ru­ral and small medium en­ter­prises. For var­i­ous rea­sons, among them ac­ces­si­bil­ity and the in­abil­ity to pay, the ru­ral mar­ket is yet to be fully ex­ploited.

Mr Chiridza, how­ever, said that de­spite the chal­lenges, the fu­ture of the fu­neral as­sur­ance in­dus­try is bright.

“I am op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture. We have a vir­gin ru­ral mar­ket which must be tapped into. If the few grey ar­eas are ad­dressed, then we are home and dry,” con­cluded Mr Chiridza.

Mr Chiridza added that most fu­neral as­sur­ance com­pa­nies are coming up with prod­ucts that suite the cur­rent mar­ket trends, which is char­ac­terised by a boom­ing in­for­mal SME sec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to Zafa, only five per­cent of Zim­bab­weans have fu­neral poli­cies, a fact the as­so­ci­a­tion says is at­tributed to a lack of dis­pos­able in­comes. a spir­i­tual or moral di­men­sion and that this di­men­sion shapes their un­der­stand­ing of their life’s pur­pose, their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to­wards the fam­ily, the com­mu­nity and the world.

The Uni­ver­sal House of Jus­tice, gov­ern­ing coun­cil of the Bahá’í In­ter­na­tional Com­mu­nity states: “. . . the equal­ity of men and women is . . . a uni­ver­sal spir­i­tual truth about an as­pect of the na­ture of hu­man be­ings . . It is, above all, a re­quire­ment of jus­tice. This prin­ci­ple is con­so­nant with the high­est rec­ti­tude of con­duct, its ap­pli­ca­tion strength­ens fam­ily life, and it is es­sen­tial to the re­gen­er­a­tion and progress of any na­tion, the peace of the world, and the ad­vance­ment of civil­i­sa­tion.”

New strate­gies to pre­vent gen­der-based vi­o­lence, there­fore, must in­clude a pro­found ad­just­ment in hu­man­ity’s out­look, guided by the spir­i­tual prin­ci­ples, ac­cep­tance of equal­ity of men and women and jus­tice to­wards all. Feed­back: [email protected] or [email protected]­hoo.com. Web­site: www. ba­hai.org http://www.ba­hai.org

Bet­ter days are coming: Mr Chiridza

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