Not so fast, Madam Ex-VP

Kuda Bwititi Chief Reporter
\nDISGRACED former Vice-President Dr Joice Mujuru’s reported snub of her pension and benefits is a moot political point as the Constitution makes it mandatory for the State to make the payments, Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba has said. Sections of the private media openly trying to advance Dr Mujuru’s agenda have claimed that the benefits, which are outlined in Statutory Instrument 86 of 2015, are a ploy by the Zanu-PF Government to “tie her down.”

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However, the Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits Act, which outlines the benefits due to Dr Mujuru was promulgated in 1987, meaning the law was not created for her and has nothing personally to do with her.

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Under the same Act, only Parliament can repeal the Statutory Instrument and deny Dr Mujuru’s benefits.
\nSection 102 of the Constitution says a former VP is entitled to a pension, regardless of the circumstances of leaving office.

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Dr Mujuru was fired from Government for, among other things, abuse of office; and from Zanu-PF for plotting to unseat President Mugabe by whatever means.

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Section 102(3) of the Constitution says: “A person who has ceased to be President or Vice-President is entitled to receive (a) a pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting President or Vice-President, as such the case may be; and (b) such allowances and other benefits as may be prescribed under an Act of Parliament.”

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Mr Charamba said the benefits extended to Dr Mujuru were a matter of law and not politics.
\n“Our Constitution makes pension an entitlement of a former President or former Vice-President or a retired President or retired Vice-President. It’s not a discretionary matter; it is mandatory, regardless of the circumstances that would have left, even though we know that the Vice-President was fired.

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“The fact that you have served in the office of President means that you are entitled to a pension automatically after you leave office. It is not a matter of discretion by the Government, Zanu-PF or the President – it’s a Constitutional requirement.

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“Even her dismissal does not stand in the way of her entitlement to the pension. Accepting that pension does not amount to pledging loyalty to Zanu-PF.

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‘‘It is pledging loyalty to the Constitution. Its not meant for Mujuru, it’s a Constitutional provision for all former Presidents and Vice-Presidents.”

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Mr Charamba said the Presidential Persons and Retirement Benefits Act buttressed the Constitutional provision.
\nPart 2 of the Act says “to any person who has at any time since the 31st of December, 1987, been President or Vice-President of Zimbabwe for at least one full term of office, an annual pension that is equal at any time to the annual salary payable to the person who is serving as President or Vice President, as the case may be” should be paid.

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The President’s Press Secretary said it was foolhardy to postulate that a law was enacted in 1987 to target only Dr Mujuru in 2015.
\n“Was the law been written on the assumption that one day she would become Vice-President and then removed from office? It’s nonsensical. This is an old Act which was promulgated before Mujuru was Vice-President and it couldn’t have anticipated that one she was going to become Vice-President and she was going to be removed from office.

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‘‘We were making provisions for an office and not a person.”
\nMr Charamba said by declining the benefits, Dr Mujuru was merely indicating that she wanted another job.
\nSection 103 of the Constitution says: “The President and Vice-Presidents, and any former President or Vice-President must not directly or indirectly hold any other public office or be employed by anyone else while they are in office or receiving a pension from the State as former President or Vice-President, as the case may be.”

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This means Dr Mujuru, technically, cannot run for public office while receiving pension and related benefits. It also means her reported repudiation has nothing to do with any “moral” issues.
\nMr Charamba said Parliament could approve or disapprove the perks offered to Dr Mujuru.

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This can only be avoided by time if Parliament seats more than 14 times after the gazetting of the Act. Statutory Instrument 86 of 2015 was gazetted on August 7 and the full package of services and facilities that were accorded to Dr Mujuru include domestic worker, a gardener, two drivers, a private secretary, security officers, two aides, a Mercedes-Benz, medical aid and air travel.