President Emmerson Mnangagwa has Gazetted benefits for spouses of former presidents and vice presidents that have served the country since 1987 automatically eliminating former President Canaan Banana’s widow, Janet.
Mnangagwa’s moves is done regardless of efforts by the Banana to have their mother accorded her benefits.
Canaan Sodindo Banana (5 March 1936 – 10 November 2003) was a Zimbabwean Methodist minister, theologian, and politician who served as the first President of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987. He was Zimbabwe’s first head of state after the Lancaster House Agreement that led to the country’s independence. In 1987, he stepped down as President and was succeeded by Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, who became the country’s executive president.
The family has tried to be very diplomatic about resolving the issue of the former President’s Pension and Retirement benefits that should have been accorded to the late President and First lady as stated in the Act that does not cover children above the age of 18 years.
The family says for over 17 years the former first lady has not received her full entitlement and consequently resorted to leading a life of frugality in the United Kingdom.
For a while now the family have been in constant communications with the previous and current government officials through countless correspondences and phone calls without any progress or timely responses being acknowledged besides lip service here and there.
In response, Mnangagwa has completely shut out the family pronouncing that the benefits will only accrue from those in office after 1987.
The benefits are contained in Statutory Instruments 261 and 260 of 2020 titled Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits (Services and Facilities for Spouses of Former Presidents) Notice, 2020 and Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits (Services and Facilities for Spouses of Former Vice Presidents), Notice 2020.
The SIs were gazetted in terms of section 3(1) of the Presidential Pension and Retirement Benefits Act.
SI 261 provides for the benefits of spouses of former presidents who serve for at least one full term.
“The spouse of the former President shall be entitled to the services of the following – such security personnel as may be determined by the President, but not less than two, and to be increased by such number as may be determined by the President whenever, and for such period, as the need arises; one driver; one private secretary and one aide-de-camp officer or personal assistant,” reads SI 261.
The spouse of the former President shall also be entitled to the provision of an office accommodation as may be determined by the President; a landline telephone and a cellphone; one computer and such other office facilities, equipment and materials as may be determined by the President.
The State will also provide accommodation to the spouse of the former President, including one domestic worker, a gardener, a cook and one waiter.
The spouse will also receive an allowance for medical aid contributions; a diplomatic passport; business class air and rail private travel within Zimbabwe, if available up to a maximum of two trips per annum; and business class international air private travel up to a maximum of two trips per year.
In terms of vehicles, the spouse will receive one sedan (Mercedes Benz E300 Series) or one four-wheel drive station wagon or an equivalent or similar class of vehicle; one pick-up van; and others meant for security personnel and other staff serving the spouse.
The vehicles would be maintained by the State while fuel allocation would be determined by the President.
The vehicles would be replaced every five years.
With respect to other benefits, the spouse of the former President shall be entitled to the provision of — (a) an entertainment allowance as determined by the President from time to time; telephone expenses in respect of the office and official residence of the spouse of the former President and water and electricity exemption in respect of the office and official residence of the former spouse of a former President, reads SI 261.
SI 260 provides for the benefits of spouses of a former vice president and these include; a domestic worker; a gardener; a driver; one private secretary and one aide-de-camp officer or personal assistant.
The other benefits are a Mercedes Benz sedan as may be determined by the President; colour television set; and an official office telephone.
The spouse will also receive allowances covering medical aid contributions and air travel once a year.