By TZN Correspondent
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe could be seriously considering retiring, if media reports indicating that his government is trying to push through Parliament a Bill that would create a fat nest for him and others senior executives in his government, are something to go by.
This week, The Financial Gazette, a Zimbabwean weekly, reported that Mugabe’s government is making frantic efforts to bolster the retirement perks for the President, Vice Presidents, Speakers of Parliament and their deputies to ensure that they retired senior officials continue to enjoy the same benefits they enjoy in office from the time they leave office until their death, with their spouses continuing to enjoy the same privileges until they also die.
Analysts who spoke to Thezimbabwenewslive.com this week say this is the clearest indication that Mugabe is seriously thinking about life out of office.
“If you closely look at the perks, (you can see that) he (Mugabe) is trying to ensure that he and other senior officials would enjoy in their retirement the lavish lifestyles they are enjoying today, (and) you can only conclude that he could be seriously considering leaving office,” one Harare-based analyst said. “If he intends to remain in office for the foreseeable future, then why the hurry in pushing this Bill through Parliament?”
There is speculation that Mugabe (91), who of late has been making uncharacteristic blunders—including his reading a wrong speech when he opened Parliament last week—could leave office as early as next year.
Last week Mugabe repeated the old speech he had read in Parliament in August for his State of the Nation Address (SONA) when he was supposed to read a speech to open Parliament.
In the past he has chanted a wrong slogan ‘Pasi neZANU!’ as well as making a careless blunder of telling his party members that in the 2008 election, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the vote by 74 percent. This is addition to the frail ruler suffering a pratfall in front of a huge crowd at the Harare International Airport early this year.
According to The Financial Gazette report, the proposed changes would guarantee that when they retire, Mugabe and his senior officials would get all the allowances they currently enjoy, instead of the lesser annual salary they are entitled to under the existing pension laws.
This would allow Mugabe and his family to continue seeking expensive treatment abroad. Mugabe, who is reported to be suffering from prostate cancer, regularly visits a world-class hospital in Singapore for treatment.
A senior ZANU-PF official confided in Thezimbabwenewslive.com that current fights in ZANU-PF are a result of Mugabe trying to manage his messy succession.
“He is too old, and to talk of him going as far as 2018 (when his term of office ends) would be stretching imagination. The game plan is that he will be handing over power to (Emmerson) Mnangagwa, his trusted aide for many years.” The official said. “Besides, he has very little choice because he cannot go any longer because of his advanced age as shown by the blunders he has been making of late. This has not been helped by the fact that the Chinese, who are providing funding to keep his government afloat, are insisting that there has to be a clear succession policy to ensure that their investments are safe.”
The source pointed out that it was for this reason that ZANU PF insisted on a clause a ten-year suspension of a Constitutional clause that demand that provides for fresh elections in the event that the incumbent cannot finish his term, instead allowing a member of his party to finish off the term for him. It was with this background that former Vice President Joice Mujuru, who would have succeeded Mugabe, was dismissed from the her post to make way for Mnangagwa.
It is hoped that is Mnangagwa assumes Presidency in 2016, this would give him a two-year period in which to consolidate his stranglehold on the livers of power to help him manipulate the 2018 elections in his favour.