Archive | January, 2018

The farce of Pensions for Mugabe and Tsvangirai: As if they were for the whole of Zimbabwe!

31 Jan

The new President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has in the last two months made moves that seemingly will forever endear him to the local and international publics. In their militarized Operation Restore Legacy it would seem part of the Mnangagwa strategy has been to skirt around any inkling of possibilities that a military coup happened in Zimbabwe. Part of this strategy involves ensuring that former President, Robert Mugabe is not embarrassed or hounded in any way. To throw an extra perk – Mnangagwa offered Mugabe a hefty pension which has been subject to serious speculation at home and abroad. As if ZANU PF had now embarked on a scorched earth policy of some sort, Mnangagwa went on put into law the pension and other emoluments for the ailing Former Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai. References have been made to provisions in the constitution of Zimbabwe conveniently in my opinion to support such moves. This stance taken by Mnangagwa is a political farce that is very problematic on several levels not least of all that the policies as they stand are a smack in the face of millions of Zimbabweans who lost their pensions through the Ponzi scheme economics prevailed upon by Robert Mugabe, Gideon Gono, and the rest of the ZANU PF government in the period around 2000 – 20008. What is more worrying is the constant disregard of such economic rights violations in discourses that seek to deal with the past in Zimbabwe.

Constitutional façade

Mnangagwa has been at pains trying to convince whoever will care to listen that he is “just” following the dictates of Zimbabwe’s constitution and doing what anyone in his shoes would have done anyway by giving Mugabe and Tsvangirai hefty pensions. It all does not add up and I dare say if he wants he can as well go ahead and quote verses from whatever holy book he wants to justify such moves. The same constitution that he is keenly referring to also protects every other citizen of Zimbabwe. If Mnangagwa cannot see anything wrong in his knee jerk policies of giving out hefty sums of money and property to these two former leaders at the taxpayers’ expense and ignore the same taxpayer who lost his pension and money during the times of hyperinflation then he certainly is being hypocritical.

The polititricks of annihilating the opposition (read Morgan Tsvangirai)

Morgan Tsvangirai is not well. Some allege that his finances are not in good shape. Clearly any overtures to rescue him financially would be well received. Mnangagwa saw it fit to capture an opportunity to annihilate the opposition and Morgan Tsvangirai by pretending to peddle these values of “unhu” – visiting Morgan Tsvangirai at his government sponsored home and then offering him a pension. Mnangagwa succeeded in nailing Tsvangirai and parading him as a sick, weak and finished political opponent. The gazetting of Tsvangirai’s pension and referrals to the constitution are all just a facade to placate him. What irks though is that the MDC leader is buying into this whole charade. At what point will Tsvangirai discuss the lost pensions of millions that were eroded in the hyperinflationary era? At what point will Mnangagwa ask and or address the same question as well?

Managing the international audience

At the recent African Union Summit in Addids Ababa, Mnangagwa “informed” the rest of the African leaders that their colleague Robert Mugabe was safe. Of course, this is all in a bid to show that there was no military coup in Zimbabwe. It is fair and fine – but the same question can be asked is that after taking power and in the hope of Restoring Legacy – why is there no discussion about Zimbabweans’ lost pensions, wealth and property due to the mismanagement of the economy by ZANU PF – a party he led, leads and lived under for so long. It is all well to inform the international community that Mugabe is safe and he has a luxurious pension but what about the rest of Zimbabwe who lost their pensions and have been ignored for ages?

The farce that was the  Pensions Conversion Commission

On 25 July 2015 President Mugabe set up a Commission of Inquiry to probe the process used to convert pensions and insurance benefits following the dollarization of the economy in 2009 (https://tchabvuta.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/pensions-conversion-commission-zimbabwe-tinkering-with-justice-for-past-economic-rights-violations/). This Commission worked for close to twelve months requesting term extensions periodically in the process. It is reported that a report was produced and submitted to President Mugabe. The contents of this report have never been known to the public. This has been the strategy of the Zimbabwe government since time immemorial. However, while it is difficult to release such a report to help deal with such important issues of the past, Mnangagwa found it very easy to work out “according to the constitution” how much money was owed to Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Mnangagwa could rise to the occasion and prove himself a man of the people and possibly Restore Zimbabweans’ Legacy by having this long-held report released in a bid to address the issue of the lost pensions.

The need for Transitional justice mechanisms to deal with Zimbabwe’s past economic rights violations

It would seem in Zimbabwe more focus is placed on civil and political rights violations and their redress over economic rights violations . Of course, the idea is never to try to compare such violations with those of an economic and or social nature. However, it is critical for Zimbabweans, civil society and other stakeholders to ensure that there is no silence around human violations of an economic nature. ZANU PF under Robert Mugabe managed to trample on people’s rights, bankrupting them, looting national resources, shutting down banks that held peoples’ deposits/savings and pensions that were devalued by inflation while they prevailed over their Gideon Gono Ponzi scheme economy. No one was ever held accountable for such egregious crimes and some of them continue to serve in Mnangagwa’s government. It would not make sense for Zimbabweans to forget such rights violations while Mugabe and Tsvangirai apparently get “compensated’.

The strategy for Mnangagwa since he got into power has been to play clean and to the gallery. Sympathies have been sought and won. It almost seems that Mnangagwa is doing Zimbabweans a favor by being in power. But this is all wrong – he is the President of the country. He must work and deliver! Part of his work will have to include him prevailing over the now defunct Pensions and Conversions Commission so that the report they drafted is produced and presented to Parliament. More importantly, he as the President must see to it that economic rights violations committed by ZANU PF technocrats and kleptocrats against Zimbabweans who lost their pensions when the economy was dollarized are compensated.

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