'Mudede won't be forced to retire'


HARARE – Registrar General Tobaiwa Toneth Mudede will not be forced out of his job even though he has reached the compulsory age of retirement, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Petronella Kagonye has told the National Assembly.

Kagonye’s remarks fly in the face of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decree to permanent secretaries just after taking office that he was going to retire all those who are above the age of 65.

“I want to assure you that no one will be laid off, expect those who have reached retirement age,” Mnangagwa said.

“Those whose ministerial posts will be abolished will be re-skilled and reassigned to other areas in the public service.

“I am sure you will appreciate that the rebuilding of our national economy and improvement of the livelihood of all citizens is both urgent and imperative; our people have endured economic hardships for over two decades, and now expect this new government to turn things around, within the shortest time possible.”

Responding on Wednesday to Harare West MDC MP Jessie Majome who had asked when Mudede was going to retire, Kagonye said government was considering reviewing upwards the compulsory retirement age.

Mudede is over 70 years of age and has been in charge of all elections held in Zimbabwe since 1981, amid accusations by the ruling Zanu PF’s rivals of ballot fraud favouring the governing party.

The country’s electoral processes are, however, now being overseen by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, headed by Supreme Court Judge Justice Rita Makarau.

“In direct response to the question from my learned colleague, allow me to say that ...Mudede was appointed as the Registrar in terms of Section 201 (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as read with Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000 (Public Service Regulations) as amended.

“In terms of Section 21 (1) of the Public Service Act, the Commission can engage persons on contract or such conditions as may be fixed from time to time.

“The Commission is empowered by the Public Service Regulations to engage retirement age.  Such persons will not contribute again towards a pension as they would have already done so, hence their placement on annually renewable contract.

“May I also inform the House that my ministry has proposed amendments to increase Nssa retirement from 60 to 65 years?  These proposals are under consideration by the minister of Finance and Economic Development as required by the Nssa Act.”

Kagonye said government was taking measures to eliminate discrimination against older persons in government.

“May I humbly implore the House against personalising enquiries and rather interrogate policy issues.

“Ageing is an inevitable consequence of life which must be embraced rather than shunned.

“According to Betty Friedan (1921-2006), ‘aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.’  Biblically, it is recognised as a crown of glory only from God.”

Civil service regulations on pensionable age and retirement state that a member appointed on pensionable terms of service before May 1, 1992, shall have a pensionable age of 65 years, while those appointed afterwards shall have a pensionable age of 60.

The regulations also provide that the “paymaster shall, on the 1st (of) June each year, provide all heads of ministry or department with a list of members who will reach the age of 55, 60 or 65 years during the ensuing year.”

Kagonye said the ministry is currently initiating ratification of Article 8 of the African Union Protocol on Older Persons requiring people to respect older persons and their right to employment.

“My ministry is currently initiating ratification of this new protocol which Parliament is expected to debate and endorse.  It is important for us to consider social trends and keep abreast with global and continental trends. 

“Our laws must remain relevant and devoid of discrimination against age in this particular context, otherwise we perish for want of vision,” Kagonye said.