PERKS FOR BIGWIGS TO BE HIKED

ZIMBABWE’S Parliament is expected to debate retirement benefits for the country’s top civil servants, which are now likely to increase as government seeks to take good care of its pensioned Statesmen, the Financial Gazette can report.

The development would benefit sacked vice president, Joice Mujuru, who is currently contemplating a plunge into opposition politics to challenge her former boss for the country’s top job.

It would also cushion the incumbent, President Robert Mugabe, should he decide to retire.
The proposals mean that there will be no lifestyle disruption for the President as he is likely to continue enjoying the same perks once out of office.


This may include even treatment abroad for himself and members of his family. Mujuru’s ally, former presidential affairs minister and ex-ZANU-PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, is also lined up for a major windfall as he too will also likely get a good pension as Zimbabwe’s first black speaker of Parliament at Independence in 1980.


Mutasa is reportedly already getting a pension as a former Cabinet minister, having held different ministerial portfolios over the past 20 years.


The proposed amendments could also benefit Janet Banana, the widow of Zimbabwe’s first president, Canaan Banana; Maud Muzenda, widow of the late former vice president Simon Muzenda; Maria Msika, the widow of former vice president Joseph Msika; and surviving former speakers of Parliament or their spouses.


According to the Finance Bill, which has been given top priority during the eighth Parliamentary sitting which started this week, government has proposed amendment of the Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits Act, which would result in the legislation entitling former presidents and vice-presidents to a pension equivalent to the total pensionable emoluments (salary and pensionable allowances) of a sitting office-holder.
This would be a hefty improvement on the perks given to former presidents and vice-presidents by the country’s Constitution, which only provides for annual salaries for retired statesmen.


The proposed amendment has deleted the term annual salary in relation pensions payable to former presidents and vice presidents and surviving spouses and children and substituted this with “pensionable emoluments” – all the salary, fees and other payments paid to the former presidents or vice presidents for their own use in respect of their former employment.


This means they will receive payments or benefits specified in their contract of employment as if they were still serving in government.
An amendment has also been proposed for the pensions payable to former speakers and deputy speakers of Parliament and their surviving spouses in terms of the Parliamentary Pensions Act.
The retired speakers and deputies would no longer be just entitled to annual salaries but would also have annual pensionable emoluments, making their salaries and perks equivalent to current office holders.
Mutasa was Zimbabwe’s founding speaker of Parliament and served from 1980 to 1990 before becoming a career Cabinet minister and a Member of Parliament until the ruling ZANU-PF party dismissed him from the party and consequently government in December last year.
He was later recalled from the House of Assembly in March.
Mujuru and Mutasa were sacked from ZANU-PF along with many others for allegedly plotting to unconstitutionally topple President Mugabe from power.

None of them has been hauled to court for the alleged offense, which former information minister Jonathan Moyo later admitted were mere “political banter”.
According to the Parliamentary Pensions Act, any person who served for a minimum of one full term as Speaker of Parliament anytime from 1980 is entitled to a pension.
This pension is suspended if the person becomes a government minister or a MP, but should be restored the moment the person ceases to hold that public post.

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