By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK In light of the overwhelming turnout of hundreds of pensioners at registration points countrywide, the United Africa Group recently decided to clear the air on public concerns about the current slow registration process. Pensioners have been standing and waiting in long queues for clerks from United Africa Paymasters to show up on time and register them. For most of the elderly who stood in the queues, they experienced tedious and slow processing. Some of the pensioners came as early as 6am and had to wait until 11:30am before employees of United Africa Paymasters turned up. The long hours of queuing made pensioners very uncomfortable especially those suffering from diabetes and arthritis and those who came having eaten only a small meal or even nothing at all. However, in a recent press statement Executive Director of United Africa Group Haddis Tilahun expressed regret about the inconvenience the situation may have caused for pensioners at the various registration points. ” Our sympathy goes out to those elderly folks who have been put through some discomfort and difficulties during this process, and if there is any inconvenience whilst waiting to register, we ask people to please be patient,” said Tilahun. He added that the exercise is mainly being carried out in an attempt to clean up the system of what he termed “ghost payments”. “The task is to verify the authenticity of all beneficiaries and in the process clean up all the ghost payments. In the process, we are cleaning up the system and are starting afresh, whereby the resources of the government will be protected and distributed to the genuine pension beneficiaries,” explained Tilahun. The assignment is being conducted as per instructions given to the company by government. Tilahun stated that United Africa Group, which was awarded the cash pension payout tender by the government for the third consecutive time, controls the registration pension payout process and is eager to avoid any falsified claims. The number of pensioners at the various registration points has placed a lot of pressure on the process, creating a lot of logistical problems. In some areas, additional equipment had to be put in place to absorb the volumes. “The programme was designed to identify a specific number of beneficiaries, but due to the rush of unidentified beneficiaries registering at unspecified locations, it has created a bottleneck and the paymasters are over-extended,” said Tilahun, adding that when wrong submissions of documents are made at one point, it causes a delay resulting in the paymasters arriving late at the next registration point. People are therefore advised to stick to their approved residential paypoints, in order to make the process much smoother. All logistics are in place to ensure that the process goes smoothly. Close to 22 computers have been stationed at various places countrywide. The elderly are required to have the necessary documents like their ID, birth and marriage certificates and in case of non-Namibian citizenship, a permanent residence permit as proof is required. The paymasters deployed to run each station should ensure that each pensioner undergoes the full procedure of having five fingerprints taken, plus an ID photo and complete set of ID documentation are required by the Ministry in order to verify the applicants’ authenticity. The latest countrywide registration process, which is conducted once every three years, started on February 5, and runs up until next week Wednesday, 28 February 2007.