By Mashudu Netsianda
Government has said it is offering to pay former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko more than $700 000 as his pension in local currency and he should not expect any other benefits.
This follows an application lodged at the High Court by Mphoko, through his lawyer, Mr Zibusiso Ncube of Ncube and Partners seeking an order directing Government, through the Public Service Commission (PSC), to award him US$320 000 in benefits as well as monthly pension payouts.
In papers before the Bulawayo High Court, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, PSC secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe, Salary Services Bureau (SSB) paymaster and the PSC were cited as respondents.
Mphoko wants an order declaring the withholding of his pension by Government illegal and unconstitutional.
He wants the respondents to pay him US$320 000 or the equivalent in local currency at the interbank rate.
In response to Mphoko’s demands, Dr Sibanda, through the Civil Division in the Attorney-General’s Office said Government through the PSC will only pay the former Vice-President $765 706,58 being his pension.
He said the money conforms with section 44C (d) of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, which repealed Statutory Instrument 142/19.
“The claiming of local payments in United States dollars is not permissible at law. Such an amount arrived at by the applicant (Mphoko) would be inconsistent with requirements of the law and for that reason the application should not be allowed to succeed,” said Dr Sibanda, in his opposing affidavit.
“I have in the circumstances asked for computation to be done by pensions offices as regards the amount due and payable to the applicant and I am informed that the money due to him is $765 706,58.”
Dr Sibanda said his office is prepared to enter into a deed of settlement with Mphoko provided he is willing to accept the offer.
“In the event that the applicant is not willing to accept our offer, we maintain our position that he is not entitled to an amount of US$320 000 and accordingly, the application should be dismissed with costs,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said Mphoko could not simply convert what he used to earn into local currency using the bank rate without taking into consideration the changes brought in following the departure from the multi-currency regime.
He said there was no explanation as to how Mphoko arrived at that figure.
In his founding affidavit contained in the application, Mphoko said having joined the civil service in October 1981, he was entitled to his benefits and pension.
“This is an application for a declaratur to declare unconstitutional the withholding of my pension by the respondents and for ancillary relief,” he said.
“I joined the civil service in October 1981 and served as an Ambassador of Zimbabwe to various countries. On December 10, 2014, I was appointed to the position of Vice President of the country, a position I held until I was removed from office in November 2017.”
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.
“From the time I left office, I have not received a single dime in respect of my pension,” he said.
Mphoko said despite approaching Dr Sibanda to assist him secure his benefits, there has been no joy, prompting him to approach the courts.
He said in the event that salaries are adjusted before the order being sought is granted, the respondents should adjust the benefits based on the new salaries. The Chronicle