As the pandemic continues to grip the world, Bonginkosi Mkhize CEO/Principal Officer of NJMPF, explains how the Fund is working hard to support local communities
Together, we are facing a truly unprecedented situation in how Covid-19 has affected the global community and our way of life.
During this time, as a retirement services provider serving members across the province of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal Joint Municipal Pension/Provident Funds (NJMPF) has not in any way slowed down. Instead, we have used this time to explore alternative solutions to continue providing superior services to our stakeholders and developed new solutions to help our members protect themselves better during this time of need.
The NJMPF administers retirement services to a membership of 30,000 members, pensioners and beneficiaries with fund assets exceeding R20bn ($1.45m). Our membership base is geographically spread across the province of KwaZulu Natal and many reside in rural areas where basic necessities like water and electricity are a challenge. These challenges can make it difficult for them to comply with basic hygiene requirements for protecting themselves against Covid-19 such as washing hands regularly and also keeping up with the news developments regarding the pandemic.
Adapting to adversity
In a matter of months, Covid-19 changed the way thousands of companies operate in a way that was previously unimaginable. As the Board of Trustees and the NJMPF staff navigate the new normal, the Fund has had to adapt to new ways of conducting business, proving to our stakeholders that we will continue to provide shelter from the storm.
The NJMPF’s values are entrenched in assisting members and providing support where it is possible. Being a member-centric and socially responsible fund, we treat each one of our stakeholders as family. The NJMPF understands how fragile life can be, especially in the face of Covid-19. Now more than ever the “family” needs to stand together united and protect one another. The NJMPF has delivered survival packs consisting of foot-dispenser sanitiser stands, hand sanitiser, face masks and bottled water. These survival packs were donated to all 55 municipalities within KwaZulu Natal in efforts to curb the spread of new Covid-19 in the province.
During Mandela Day 2020, the Fund made a pledge to use the 67 Mandela minutes to celebrate the life of all NJMPF Centenarians. Following up on this pledge, the Fund visited all NJMPF Centenarians in their homes to celebrate a life well lived. Understanding that the elderly are the most vulnerable and high risk during these times, the Fund donated NJMPF Covid-19 survival packs, baskets of fruit, fleece blankets and mugs to all centenarians giving them a better fighting chance against this virus.
During a time of such uncertainty, with media coverage constantly reporting on how deadly the virus is, especially for senior citizens, the NJMPF wanted to alleviate their anxiety and to celebrate these precious individuals. The Fund wanted to appreciate them and show them that we care beyond just paying them a monthly pension, their health is important to us too. After a lifetime of working, raising families, and contributing to the success of communities, the NJMPF saw it fit to commemorate these centenarians during this challenging time.
The NJMPF understands that providing timely and succinct communication is key during a time of global crisis. Communication via emails and SMS is sent on a regular basis, to keep stakeholders abreast of developments regarding the pandemic. This gives our stakeholders assurance about the security/safety of their retirement savings during these hard times of global market volatility. It also reminds them that retirement benefits are a long-term investment strategy, everything that is happening in the markets is short-term with all signs that recovery is probable. The NJMPF website and mobile app are also updated with the latest news and information.
The NJMPF’s crest has a saying in Latin, “Ancora Labentibus Undis”, which means “anchor in uncertain storms”. And, the NJMPF has proven to be exactly this – an anchor to its members during these most uncertain times.