via Tsvangirai restates his benefits case – NewZimbabwe 14/09/201
OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai has insisted that he is entitled to terminal benefits as former prime minister but denied petitioning President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party over the payments.
Tsvangirai, for years denied live interviews on local radio and television, was granted his first ever opportunity by ZiFM Sterio Monday night.
Although privately owned, the radio station is connected to Zanu PF minister Supa Mandiwanzira and Tsvangirai was interviewed by top broadcaster Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa, whose father also happens to be a ruling party politician and minister.
The MDC-T leader expressed surprise at the invitation, noting that radio had long been a “no go area” for the opposition in the country.
In the no-holds-barred exchanges, Tsvangirai was challenged about his alleged demand for terminal benefits from the government.
He served as prime minister in a fractious coalition government with President Mugabe between 2009 and 2013.
Tsvangirai reminded his interogator that he had never written to Mugabe asking for the payments but insisted he was entitled to the money under the country’s constitution.
Mugabe recently gazetted a pension for former vice president Joice Mujuru who was fired for allegedly plotting to either topple or, failing that, kill the 91-year-old leader but said nothing about Tsvangirai’s claim.
Mujuru, who denies the coup charges, spurned the pension.
Tsvangirai said he only wanted to be treated fairly, “like any other Zimbabwean worker”.
“I have never written to President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to say give me this, give me that; I never did that,” he said.
“I have not demanded from them but I am entitled in terms of the laws of the country as a former prime minister, surely.
“If Smith and Muzorewa were given these things as former Prime Ministers by Robert Mugabe why is he denying me that? I don’t have to beg for them?”
The MDC-T leader also defended his continued stay in the million dollar Harare house acquired for him by the government while he was prime minister.
He has remained at the property without buying it or paying rent, two years after the coalition government ended with his defeat in the 2013 general elections.
The MDC-T leader said the property was not a mansion as claimed in the media but just “a normal house”.
“It is wrong, I am not fighting for anything. People have made an issue about the house, they have made an issue about benefits.”
He was also challenged on gay rights after appearing to have supported them while visiting the UK years ago and then back-tracking once he returned to Harare.
“I am not gay,” Tsvangirai said Monday. “I have never (said) I am pro-gays or I am against gays.
“The constitution is very clear and I will go by the constitution. The constitution gives protection and it protects every Zimbabwe regardless of sexual orientation.”
He added: “I have always said as far as sexual freedom, sexual orientation is concerned we never and we will never legislate against gays and we will never be in a position of saying we are.
“But for me personal I don’t subscribe to that.”