ZIMBABWEANS from all walks of life have roundly condemned former President Robert Mugabe following startling revelations that he is demanding his pension lump sum in cash after years of getting his salary using the same arrangement.
According to documents in possession of our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, the former President is demanding his pension lump sum of nearly half-a-million dollars and monthly pension pay out of over $13 000 in cash.
The documents also reveal that Mr Mugabe had been getting monthly cash payments of $20 000 while still Head of State and Government, even as ordinary Zimbabweans queued for days on end to access amounts as low as $20 from banks.
It has also been established that former First Lady Mrs Grace Mugabe is also getting a monthly payment of $2 170 from the State.
Police were unleashed on those who spoke out at bank queues as Mr Mugabe and his wife sat pretty, getting cash.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mr Mugabe, was left bemused by the arrangement, saying it was highly irregular and irresponsible and opted to have his salary paid through a bank transfer.
The Chronicle yesterday took to the streets and spoke to ordinary residents, politicians and lawyers in Bulawayo over the issue.
A Bulawayo constitutional lawyer, Mr Dumisani Dube, said Mr Mugabe’s demands were a violation of anti-money laundering laws.
“Mr Mugabe’s demands are against anti-money laundering laws which were put in place to curb terrorism among other criminal activities. Anti-money laundering specifically refers to all policies and pieces of legislation that force financial institutions to proactively monitor their clients in order to prevent money laundering and corruption. So why does Mr Mugabe, a private citizen, want such a huge amount in cash when the generality of people are struggling to access even $100 per week?” he queried.
“In South Africa you cannot even withdraw $100 000 without first complying with the South African Reserve Bank regulations on money laundering and terror. In light of that, we can only speculate that Mr Mugabe wants to use the money for illicit activities.”
Mr Dube urged Mr Mugabe to embrace plastic money.
“We are living in a cashless society and there is no justification why someone would want to carry such huge amounts in cash.
Another Bulawayo lawyer, Mr Abednico Ndebele, who is a retired magistrate, had no kind words for the former Head of State and Government.
“We know that Mr Mugabe is constitutionally entitled to his pension and other benefits, but for him to demand that money in cash is something that cannot be condoned considering the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe. He is being unreasonable and this is actually a contradiction of what he used to preach when he was still the President that we should embrace plastic money,” he said.
“Pensioners spend several hours if not days trying to withdraw their money, which is merely pittance, and we have National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) employees who have gone for years without pay, but here is a man who is not even ashamed to demand a lump sum of almost half-a-million in cash.”