SOUTHERN NEWS | ED, Mphoko fight over pension

BULAWAYO - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is at logger-heads with former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko over his pension, insisting that the fallen second-in-command must not enjoy full benefits because he did not serve a full term.

Welshman Ncube, Mphoko’s barrister, briefed the Southern News  that the government, through the ministry of Justice, had opened up channels of communication over the pension issue, but was refusing to award the former vice president full benefits.

“We have been communicating back and forth, the communication we have so far with the ministry of Justice through the advice of the Attorney-General is that they appear to be conceding that he (Mphoko) is entitled to his pension but continue to dispute his entitlement to other benefits like security, office and others,” Ncube said.

The respected lawyer said part of the argument being raised by the government was that Mphoko did not deserve to get some of his terminal benefits since he did not complete his full term as the country’s second-in-charge.

In December last year, Mnangagwa gazetted retirement benefits to be enjoyed by a former president of Zimbabwe.

In terms of vice presidents, Statutory Instrument 86 of 2015 states that a VP who served at least one term in office can enjoy exit packages such as a security officer, two drivers, and domestic workers.

It is this clause that has somehow created the bone of contention as it assumes that Mphoko does not qualify for the benefits since he did not serve a full term.
Mphoko assumed the VP post in 2014 and lost his job in November last year under popular pressure following a military takeover, almost two years short of a full five-year term.

Constitutional lawyer Lovemore Madhuku last year told the press that Mphoko deserved to get his exit package as stipulated in the Constitution.

Madhuku said the definition of a full term was only relevant to limit a president or vice president from seeking another term in office.

“What defines a term is a constitutional instrument. The Constitution does not require any vice president to have served any term. The Constitution requires a vice president to have been a vice president,” he said.

“He is entitled to his full benefits in terms of the law. It doesn’t matter how long he served. Even a person who has be a vice president for two hours qualifies for full benefits. The constitutional provision states that a president and a vice president, upon leaving office, are entitled to the same salary as the serving president or vice president for the remainder of their life,” said Madhuku then.

Mphoko’s fight for his benefits comes at a time when former president Robert Mugabe has already received his retirement benefits though he has expressed misgivings on how part of his package has been condensed.

Gold mine wrangle sucks in ED

BULAWAYO - President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sucked into a messy gold mine wrangle between a war veteran and a foreigner, a development that could be an acid test to the president in the wake of his bid to court foreign direct investment.

In a letter sent to Mnangagwa sighted by Southern News, one of the parties involved in the nasty ruction implored the president to intervene and stop his liquidation as a result.

George Prokopos, through one of his local proxies, is seeking help from the president to halt one local war veteran Blessing Ndiweni — who is also a Zanu PF member — from disturbing his gold mining adventure at Fort Rixon Mine.

Prokopos, who is out of the country after his resident permit expired, argued that his ex-partner — Ndiweni — is trying to elbow him out of his company using political connections.

“The above matter refers to serious intimidation and harassment of one George Prokopos, a foreign investor who has interests in Mushly Investments — a custom milling company based in Fort Rixon — by one former local partner Blessing Ndiweni who claims to be a war veteran and well-connected in both the ruling party and government which has forced the investor to flee the country,” reads part of the letter by Abishayi Maketshemu, one of Prokopos’ proxies in Zimbabwe.

Prokopos further states that State intelligence agents coerced him to re-incooperate Ndiweni into his mining adventures, after he initially fired the war veteran on accusations of fraud.

“Blessing Ndiweni, with help of (members of the president’s department), forced Mr Prokopos to sign an affidavit declaring the restoration of Ndiweni as a shareholder who was fired for theft and abuse of company funds and the group threatened him that without signing the document his permit will not be renewed, up to date it has not been. Fearing for his life he ran away from Zimbabwe,” Maketshemu said in his letter.

Maketshemu further noted that Prokopos recently signed a power of attorney authorising him to run his investment pending his return.

“We therefore request your good office to urgently intervene and curb this rot which is cancerous and detrimental to the objective of attracting foreign direct investment. We hope your office deals with this matter with the urgency it deserves to avoid the investor engaging his embassy. He failed to get help from any other office in the country which he has been to,” he said.

Ndiweni, however, hit back saying the allegations raised against him were disingenuous as he co-owned the mining company with Prokopos.

“I never stole any mine or what, its people who are against me who are creating lies and peddling them as the truth,” Ndiweni told Southern News.

“The truth is that this was a joint business adventure between me and Mr Prokopos. Unfortunately, my partner turned on me and tried to get rid of me,” he added.

The combative Ndiweni defiantly stated that Prokopos has been trying to reach out to him to make peace.

“As of 2016, I had taken leave to focus on other business adventures and now I am back at the mine and gathered my partner’s residence permit had expired and he had left Zimbabwe to process his papers from his native country,” said Ndiweni.

He added: “For your own information, before Mr Prokopos left the country, he signed on his own his accord an affidavit stating that he had abused me in attempts to block me from the mine.

“To that end, he promised to pay $5 000 in damages. I am waiting for him to come back to the country and we resolve the wrangle. I am more than willing to work with him. I have nothing against him. We started this mine together and why would I want to harm him.”

Free parking discs for security agents

BULAWAYO - Top security agents are among those who stand to benefit from free vehicle parking in Bulawayo’s Central Business District.

This was revealed in the latest council minutes, where the town clerk Christopher Dube reported that in terms of the current policy on privileged vehicle parking in the city, various categories of personnel were exempted from purchasing vehicle parking discs.

Among those that are set to benefit from the local authority’s privileged extension will be council officials using private vehicles on council business, council employees driving council vehicles, aldermen and councillors.

“Council heads of department, Judges (serving and retired). Defence forces (ZNA, ZRP, prisons) — from the rank of lieutenant colonel and equivalent locally based or in cantonments within greater Bulawayo and local Members of Parliament,” reads the minutes in part.

The council noted that the exemption will only apply strictly to parking on normal parking bays and not on illegal parking or parking on prohibited areas.

This also comes at a time the council received a request from the Local Government ministry for the inclusion of their senior officials in the scheme.

The city fathers, however, acceded to the request, citing the cordial relationship that exists between the two parties.

Meanwhile, a parking management company, Megalithic Marketing (Pvt) Limited represented by its directors, Charles and Moreblessing Musema, have taken the local authority to court for contempt of court after the city fathers failed to comply with High Court orders, which dismissed its bid to cancel a tender that was initially won by the firm.

Megalithic Marketing, said the local authority failed to effect the tender for it to manage parking space in the city against the court’s ruling.

The company cited BCC, Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube and chamber secretary, Sikhangele Zhou as respondents in its application.

“On October 7, 2011 first respondent (BCC) advertised for bidders for a parking management system tender for a five-year period commencing January 2012,” read the application in part.

“Applicant participated in the tender process and the first respondent’s (BCC’s) adjudicating committee’s findings without considering same on the merits and they subsequently placed another advert for a re-tender.”

In June 2017, council wrote to the company saying its tender had not been successful for lack of experience and aborted the tender process without awarding any bidders.

The company submitted that council was in flagrant disregard of the court order by failing to award the tender to the highest bidder.

However, Justice Lawrence Kamocha set aside council’s decision to re-tender saying  the court made pronouncement that the first respondent’s decision to re-tender was unfair and capricious towards the applicant, who had come out as the highest bidder.

Council was not satisfied with the clear terms of the order and filed a chamber application to be allowed to have option to abort the previous tender process.
Council’s application was dismissed.

In its response to the application, the council said when it advertised for tender in the parking management, it clearly stated that all will be done according to council policy.

Council said the applicant’s bid was also accepted, but later the council’s procurement board felt the whole tender had been marred by several irregularities and recommended a re-tender.

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