Emafini: BE War Room 02 March, 2022.
Business Eswatini (BE) convened a major insurance Indaba which involved most companies in the country that deals in insurance and risk management. It was a well-attended sector conference which saw senior executives engage each other in order to find solutions to common problems.
ESRIC’s General Manager Zama Ngcobo who is the chairperson for the insurance sector at BE chaired the proceedings whilst BE’s CEO, E. Nathi Dlamini acted as the convener on behalf of the BE Board. Sector meetings are a common occurrence at BE but this particular one was distinctive given the fundamental changes that have taken place in the country within a very short space of time. These include the effects of climate change which have seen the insurance industry part with millions as payouts to insured individuals and companies who have suffered various kinds of losses. Then there was the recent unfortunate matter of the social unrest which also saw a number of buildings and infrastructure being lost, some which may or may not have been insured as it is very expensive to insure against political risk.
The sector bosses were challenged to come up with practical insurance solutions to address the country’s home-grown problems like the riots, looting and whatnot. The meeting was however cautioned that affordability of the insurance cover was key which was however not a major cause for concern given the competitiveness of the industry.
On the matter of social and political risk insurance, the insurance companies were one-minded when they said that they have now agreed on a solution to the problem and that a risk package to address these risks is now complete. There was a rapturous applause because in the recent social skirmishes the number of companies and individuals who were not insured is alarming. This is why there was a need for the head of state to launch a reconstruction fund. This fund was meant to help those businesses which were not insured.
The sector then deliberated on the national social security bill and the proposed conversion of Eswatini National Pension Fund conversion from a provident fund into pension fund. They were unanimous in their support for a social security benefit in the country and that it is something needed by every citizen in the country. However, they voiced out their concerns that insurance companies had not been invited to be part of the exercise, and neither were they consulted yet they saw themselves as a major stakeholder in the whole exercise. They further expressed their reservations on the approach being taken to implement the whole thing fearing that it may not take much, according to their opinion, to have it bankrupted within a short period of time due to lack of rigorous testing and planning before promulgating a legislation.
They also weighed in on the matter of the Unemployment Benefit Fund (UBF) as well as Workmen’s Compensation and wondered why these benefits were not made part of the proposed national security. They further proposed that workmen’s compensation should now be open to every insurance company in the country and not the preserve of ESRIC. The meeting was unanimous on this and a solid resolution was taken to pursue this matter as a common position of the sector which BE was requested to push aggressively for the stability of the insurance sector and, by extension, the whole economy.
Those companies not in attendance were encouraged to look out for the next meeting so as not to miss out on the crucial discussions which influence the landscape of the sector and that of the businesses that the insurance sector supports. BE was commended for hosting the sector and further encouraged to pursue the issues raised on the day with courage. There will be more such meetings to come.