BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
Government has reportedly withdrawn most of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s State-funded benefits including security staff as the Zanu PF regime intensifies its campaign to reduce her to an ordinary citizen after expelling her from the ruling party and government, NewsDay has reported.
This also came amid reports that Mujuru — who until last December, was President Robert Mugabe’s deputy for 10 years —had not received her salary since January after her recall from the post over allegations of plotting to oust her principal.
This is despite a constitutional provision which makes her eligible to continue receiving her salary and benefits until she dies.
Section 102 of the Constitution on Remuneration of President and Vice-Presidents 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 the case may be; and (b) such allowances and other benefits as may be prescribed under an Act of Parliament.”
According to Section 103 of the Constitution, Mujuru would only forfeit her benefits if she “directly or indirectly holds any other public office or be employed by anyone else while he or she is in office or is receiving a pension from the State as former President or Vice-President”.
Although she is linked to the new political grouping calling itself the Original Zanu PF “People First”, made up of disgruntled party members, who include former party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and ousted former secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa, Mujuru has not officially pronounced her role in the outfit.
Mujuru yesterday declined to comment over the alleged withdrawal of her security staff, but a well-placed source close to her confirmed the developments, saying government had advised her staff that their contracts would be terminated at the end of last month.
“Mujuru was told that she would be responsible for their salaries if she keeps them. The workers are still there and Mujuru would take over end of this month,” the source said.
By close of business yesterday, NewsDay had not established the number of workers affected by the move.
It is also understood that Mujuru last received her salary in December when she was relieved of her duties as Mugabe’s second-in-command together with several ministers who were accused of working with her in the alleged coup plot. Vice-Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko were appointed as Mugabe’s deputies the same month, a move that triggered legal reactions with National Constitutional Assembly national chairperson Lovemore Madhuku taking Mugabe to court.
Madhuku argued that the appointment of Mnangagwa and Mphoko as VPs would strain the country’s budget as, according to Section 102 of the Constitution, Mujuru was still entitled to a life pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting VP. This would mean that Zimbabwe would be paying three VPs. Mujuru was fired from Zanu PF late last month after the Zanu PF disciplinary committee ruled that she had been plotting to oust Mugabe with her late husband, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, since 2004. “It possibly explains why Mugabe did not visit the Mujuru home to pay condolences after the death of General Mujuru (in 2011). Mugabe only showed up at One Commando (Barracks) when his former VP was leaving the charred remains of her husband. Mugabe told her she would be Acting President while he was away in Angola,” said the source.
Another source added: “Even when Mujuru was still in government, Mugabe was never particular about her welfare as shown when he always gave her old cars, including the Mercedes-Benz S350 that was used by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai during the period of the inclusive government.
“That government has stopped paying her benefits should not come as a surprise. Indications were always there.”
Both Presidential spokesperson George Charamba and Public Service minister Priscah Mupfumira could not be reached for comment yesterday.