By Jeffrey Muvundusi
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is at logger-heads with former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko over his pension, insisting that the fallen second-in-command must not enjoy full benefits because he did not serve a full term.
Welshman Ncube, Mphoko’s barrister, briefed the Southern News that the government, through the ministry of Justice, had opened up channels of communication over the pension issue, but was refusing to award the former vice president full benefits.
“We have been communicating back and forth, the communication we have so far with the ministry of Justice through the advice of the Attorney-General is that they appear to be conceding that he (Mphoko) is entitled to his pension but continue to dispute his entitlement to other benefits like security, office and others,” Ncube said.
The respected lawyer said part of the argument being raised by the government was that Mphoko did not deserve to get some of his terminal benefits since he did not complete his full term as the country’s second-in-charge.
In December last year, Mnangagwa gazetted retirement benefits to be enjoyed by a former president of Zimbabwe.
In terms of vice presidents, Statutory Instrument 86 of 2015 states that a VP who served at least one term in office can enjoy exit packages such as a security officer, two drivers, and domestic workers.
It is this clause that has somehow created the bone of contention as it assumes that Mphoko does not qualify for the benefits since he did not serve a full term.
Mphoko assumed the VP post in 2014 and lost his job in November last year under popular pressure following a military takeover, almost two years short of a full five-year term.
Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku last year told the press that Mphoko deserved to get his exit package as stipulated in the Constitution.
Madhuku said the definition of a full term was only relevant to limit a president or vice president from seeking another term in office.
“What defines a term is a constitutional instrument. The Constitution does not require any vice president to have served any term. The Constitution requires a vice president to have been a vice president,” he said.
“He is entitled to his full benefits in terms of the law. It doesn’t matter how long he served. Even a person who has be a vice president for two hours qualifies for full benefits. The constitutional provision states that a president and a vice president, upon leaving office, are entitled to the same salary as the serving president or vice president for the remainder of their life,” said Madhuku then.
Mphoko’s fight for his benefits comes at a time when former president Robert Mugabe has already received his retirement benefits though he has expressed misgivings on how part of his package has been condensed. DailyNews