Mashudu Netsianda Bulawayo Bureau
Government is disputing former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s claim of more than US$300 000 in benefits and pension, all to be calculated in US dollars and paid in forex or at the interbank rate.
This emerged when Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, through the Civil Division of the Attorney-General’s Office, yesterday filed an application for condonation for late filing of his notice of opposition to the claim at the Bulawayo High Court.
Dr Sibanda, who is responsible for the administration of pensions and benefits of former Presidents and Vice Presidents, is seeking an order allowing the Government to file opposing affidavits in Mr Mphoko’s case.
In his application citing Cabinet, Dr Sibanda, Public Service Commission (PSC) Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe, Salary Services Bureau (SSB) Paymaster and PSC Pensions Master as respondents, Mr Mphoko is seeking an order directing Government, through the PSC, to award him more than US$300 000 in benefits and monthly pension.
The PSC, however, has said the former Vice President will only be paid his calculated pension in local currency and should not expect any other benefits.
Dr Sibanda queried Mr Mphoko’s claim, saying it was not justified.
“The respondent is claiming an amount of US$320 000 and no explanation is given as to how he arrives at such a figure. He cannot simply convert what he used to earn then and convert it at the going rate without taking into consideration the changes brought in by the departure from multi-currency regime.
“In this regard, there is a dispute as to what respondent maybe entitled to,” he said.
Dr Sibanda said it was illegal under amendments to the Reserve Bank Act for Mr Mphoko to claim his money in United States dollars.
Dr Sibanda, continuing to argue for permission to file late, said the matter of Mr Mphoko’s claim is of national importance as it involves payment of pension to any former Vice President.
Government said the amount Mr Mphoko will get will be subjected to computation by the Pensions Office in consultation with the SSB.
Mr Mphoko said having joined the civil service in October 1981, he was entitled to his benefits and pension as a civil servant.
In addition he claims a second pension as a former Vice President equivalent, under the Constitution, to the salary of a sitting Vice President.
He was appointed Vice President in December 2014, a position he held until he was removed from office in November 2017.