Political analyst and legal expert Alex Magaisa says former Vice-President Joice Mujuru should accept her government pension in the interest of upholding the supreme law of the land and building a culture of constitutionalism.
Writing in his blog, the former adviser to Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says while rejecting the benefits might make immediate political sense, earning her plaudits in the public gallery, it does not make constitutional sense.
There have been reports, which Mujuru herself has not confirmed, that she has turned down the package offered to her by the government last month.
The package includes an allowance equivalent to the salary of a sitting vice-president and other benefits such as state bodyguards and is being viewed as bait to buy Mujuru out of politics.
“Former Vice President Joice Mujuru should accept her constitutionally-guaranteed pension and allowances, in the interests of upholding the supreme law of the land and building a culture of constitutionalism. She must look beyond her individual circumstances and instead, consider the bigger picture, and play her part in supporting an institution which, if properly nurtured, can serve the nation well in the future. Rejecting the pension and benefits might make immediate political sense for her, earning her plaudits in the public gallery, but it does not make constitutional sense and the latter is a grave risk which must be prevented,” Magaisa writes.
“The pension and terminal benefits are constitutional entitlements, not a favour from the State or from ZANU-PF, the ruling party.”
Magaisa argues that rejecting the pension and benefits has the potential of eroding an important constitutional institution which was created to promote democracy and leadership change.
“Guaranteeing a pension and benefits for former Presidents and Vice Presidents serves an important purpose in that it provides an incentive for incumbents to avoid clinging on to office since the pension and benefits guarantee financial security to departing leaders.
“There is a view that leaders often cling on to office because of uncertain financial security in life after office. A constitutional provision which guarantees that they will receive the same wages and benefits as sitting Presidents or Vice Presidents, incumbents derive financial security which encourages them to leave office, knowing they will not be financially worse off,” he argues.
“For that reason, this is an institution which must not be politicised or subjected to the political gallery. Instead, we must inculcate a culture whereby departing Presidents and Vice Presidents take their dues upon leaving office. If anything, the government has done well, albeit later than they should have done, to make provision for Mujuru’s pension and benefits. Mujuru might choose to use the pension and wages as she wishes but constitutionalism demands that she must take them.”