Chief Secretary in the Office of the President, Misheck Sibanda has applied for the courts to pardon him after he failed to defend an application filed by former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko seeking an order declaring as illegal and unconstitutional the withholding of his pension by government.
The application by Sibanda with three other senior government officials, Zibusiso Ncube, the Civil Service Commission Secretary; Jonathan Wutaunashe, Salary Service Bureau Paymaster and Brighton Chizingo, Civil Service Commission Director of Pensions was filed this week at the High Court in Bulawayo through the Civil Division of the Attorney General's Office.
"This is an application in which I am seeking condonation for the late filing of my notice of opposition in case No H.C 2341/19. When the 2nd, 3rd and 4th applicants herein were served with the court application in the said case, they indicated to me that I had been cited as a party to the proceedings and that they needed instructions from me so that we could file a joint opposition," said Sibanda in his court papers.
"I indicated to them that I could only furnish them with instructions after I had been served with the court application and after having perused it. To this day, I have not been served with the court application," he said.
Last year, the Public Service Commission (PSC) agreed to pay Mphoko his pension only and no other benefits.
In a letter dated 18 November 2019, the PSC through the Civil Division of the Attorney General's Office also indicated that they intended to oppose Mphoko's application but the opposing time frame had since elapsed.
Mphoko was Vice President during late President Robert Mugabe's last term of office which ended abruptly with a military coup. Mugabe was replaced by incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
At one time, as part of his 'exit package', Mphoko demanded first class air travel on four foreign trips per year; private houses and an army of aides and domestic staff. These were some of the benefits that he enjoyed during his days as Mugabe's VP.
In terms of Vice Presidents, Statutory Instrument 86 of 2015, says a VP is entitled to enjoy exit packages such as a security officer, two drivers and domestic workers after serving at least one term.
However, the government stated Mphoko does not qualify for the benefits since he did not serve a full term as VP. He assumed office in 2014 and two years short of a full five-year term.