PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s recent decision to gazette former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s pension and retirement benefits including State-funded aide-de-camp officers, eight months after she unceremoniously lost both her government and Zanu PF posts, has raised eyebrows among her sympathisers and analysts who view the move as calculated to monitor her movements and curtail her plans to join opposition politics.
Mugabe on August 7 this year, gazetted Statutory Instrument 86 of 2015 outlining retirement benefits for former Vice-Presidents.
The benefits include a State-funded domestic worker, gardener, two drivers, a private secretary, a close security unit officer, two aide-de-camp officers, use of a Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle, a colour television set, an official office and telephone in addition to medical aid and air travel allowances.
Mujuru’s followers and analysts, however, questioned government’s decision to announce the benefits now when she had already been linked to a new political outfit, People First, which is made up of former Zanu PF members fired before and after the ruling party’s congress last December.
Mujuru was sacked as Mugabe’s deputy along with over 104 other Zanu PF stalwarts on a litany of allegations including plotting to unconstitutionally oust Mugabe.
Following her ouster, the State immediately withdrew Mujuru’s aides, forcing her to retain 12 whom she offered to pay from her coffers.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said: “The move is indeed likely to have a huge bearing on how she manoeuvres from here.
It will be difficult for her to associate with the People First project. This might also probably explain her silence in the past few months. Maybe there were underhand moves and an agreement could have been struck that she sticks to non-political activities in return for the benefits.”
He added: “My opinion is that there could have been a quid-pro-quo (something for something) arrangement between Mugabe and Mujuru behind the scenes. That is the danger of relying on individuals and no country should ever do that.
“Zanu PF is stuck with Mugabe even if they do not want him anymore. The same with the MDC-T, they have (Morgan) Tsvangirai and cannot move. Other people should be able to take up the mantle. It is a tragic situation and I think it will be difficult for Mujuru now,” he said.
Mujuru’s ally and People First spokesperson Rugare Gombo said the decision to award her a pension should have been made long back.
“How did they expect her to survive? I would want to think that there is nothing untoward about this, but give me until Tuesday for a more comprehensive comment,” Gumbo said.
Another political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza, challenged Mugabe to extend the same benefits to former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“Mujuru is owed that pension and, in fact, Mugabe should extend that to Tsvangirai as happened to (the late) Abel Muzorewa and Ian Smith. It is a legal requirement that Mugabe cannot run away from,” Mandaza said.
“Mujuru can still (politically) challenge Mugabe if she decides to with no negative consequences at all. It is up to her really.”
Muzorewa and Smith, who both served before Independence, reportedly received State pensions until they died.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said Mugabe was only being “his malicious and vindictive self”.
“If Mugabe could give a pension to Rhodesian leader Smith and Muzorewa until they died and continue to give pensions to late Vice-Presidents Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda’s widows, there is no reason to deny Tsvangirai the same,” Gutu said.
“This is vintage Mugabe, good at malice and selective application of justice and the law.”
Tsvangirai, who continues to live in a government house located in the leafy suburb of Highlands, has reportedly not received his pension two years after leaving office at the end of his tenure as Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity.
Another political analyst, Alexander Rusero, said Mugabe’s decision to announce Mujuru’s terminal benefits might have something personal in it for him.
“Mugabe is 91 years old and knows that he might want to benefit from the same legal provisions when he retires and if he decides to,” Rusero said.
“The President might not want to deny others benefits that are likely to accrue to him in the not too distant future,” he said.
Mujuru, who has remained silent over her future political plans, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The former VP has, however, denied the treason and witchcraft allegations levelled against her by Mugabe.-Newsday