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Government dismisses ex-VP Mphoko’s US$300 000 benefits claim

By Mashudu Netsianda

GOVERNMENT is disputing former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko’s claim of more than US$300 000 in benefits and monthly pension pay-outs, saying there is no explanation as to how he arrived at that figure.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko (right)
Former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko (right) seen here with his wife

This emerged when Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, through the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office, yesterday filed an application for condonation for late filing of his notice of opposition at the Bulawayo High Court, citing Mr Mphoko as a respondent.

Dr Sibanda, who is responsible for the administration of pensions and benefits of former Presidents and Vice-Presidents, is seeking an order allowing the Government to file opposing affidavits in Mr Mphoko’s case under HC2341/19.

In his application citing Cabinet, Dr Sibanda, Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe, Salary Services Bureau (SSB) paymaster and PSC pensions master as respondents, Mr Mphoko is seeking an order directing Government, through the PSC, to award him more than US$300 000 in benefits and monthly pension pay-outs.

The PSC however has said the former Vice President will only be paid his pension in local currency and should not expect any other benefits.

Mr Mphoko wants an order declaring the withholding of his pension by Government illegal and unconstitutional.

He is seeking an order directing the respondents to pay him US$308 000 or the equivalent in local currency at the interbank rate.

In his founding affidavit, Dr Misheck Sibanda said Government has good prospects of success in the matter in which it is challenging Mr Mphoko’s claim.

Dr Sibanda queried Mr Mphoko’s claim, saying it was not justified.

“The respondent is claiming an amount of US$320 000 and no explanation is given as to how he arrives at such a figure. He cannot simply convert what he used to earn then and convert it at the going rate without taking into consideration the changes brought in by the departure from multi-currency regime. In this regard, there is a dispute as to what respondent may be entitled to,” he said.

“Secondly, if even if the respondent (Mr Mphoko) were to be taken to be entitled to the pension and benefits he claims, he is only entitled to receive such in a manner which complies with section 44C 4(d) of the Reserve Bank Act, which repealed Statutory Instrument 142/19.”.

Dr Sibanda said it was illegal for Mr Mphoko to claim his money in United States dollars.

“In the instant case, the respondent is claiming pension in United States dollars, which is payable at the going rate. The claiming of local payments in United States dollars is not permissible at law.

“Such an amount arrived at in such a manner would be inconsistent with the requirements of the law and for that reason the application should be dismissed,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said the matter is of national importance as it involves payment of pension to a former Vice-President.

The Government said the amount Mr Mphoko’s will get will be subjected to computation by the Pensions Office in consultation with the SSB.

Mr Mphoko said having joined the civil service in October 1981, he was entitled to his benefits and pension.

He was appointed Vice-President in December 2014, a position he held until he was removed from office in November 2017.

Mr Mphoko argued that in terms of section 102(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, he was entitled to a pension which is equivalent to the salary of a sitting Vice President. The Chronicle