KONKOLA Copper Mines (KCM) has dragged the State to court seeking an interpretation of whether the amendment of the retirement age from 55 to 60 years by the National Pensions Scheme Amendment Act No.7 of 2015 and the Public Service Retirement Act is applicable to every corporate or employing company in Zambia.
According to an affidavit in support of summons, KCM’s Head of Corporate Affairs Akakandelwa Mubiana has asked the Attorney General to interpret whether the amendment of the retirement age from 55 to 60 years by the two Acts was applicable across the board to every corporate or employing company in Zambia.
The mining firm has argued that it wanted an interpretation because there was no legislation in Zambia which directly provided for a mandatory retirement age which must be followed by all employing entities or occupational pension funds.
Mr Mubiana has submitted that if the answer was in the affirmative, KCM demanded for a determination of the effective date of the revised retirement age in view of the principle of non-retrospective application of amendments to legislation.
Mr Mubiana contended that pursuant to the KCM Pension Fund Rules under clause 1.16, retirement age was the end of the month in which a member attained the age of 55 and that the two Acts do not provide for any mandatory application of 60 years on all employing entities or occupational pension funds.
He further contended that neither the National Pensions Scheme Amendment Act No.7 of 2015 nor the Public Service Retirement Act could be used to enforce a mandatory application of 60 years on all employing entities or occupational pension funds.
Mr Mubiana submitted that in 2014 the State amended regulation 4 of the Public Service retirement age to change the retirement age in the public service from 55 to 60 years for members who contribute to the National Pensions Scheme Fund.
He added that the amendment came into force on August 14, 2015 which reserved the right of the employees who were members of the Scheme before the coming into force of the amended law to choose whether they wished to be bound by the new law or still be bound by the old law.
KCM wanted to know whether the members could elect to retire and claim their retirement at the age of 50 to 55 years as per the repealed law or could elect to retire at the age of 60 or 65 years as per the amended law with the consent of the employer.
Mr Mubiana also contended that the National Pension Scheme Act only applied to members of the scheme who are defined as employees who were required to contribute to the scheme.
He added that the State made a further amendment to the Income Tax Act which amended the retirement from 55 to 60 for income tax purposes through the Income Tax amendment Act in respect of approval of pension funds for tax purposes by the Commissioner General.
Mr Mubiana submitted that the principal legislation being relied upon to extend the mandatory imposition of the age of 60 to employers and occupational pension fund was the National Pension Scheme Amendment Act No.7 of 2015.