Bonus saga and Mugabe ‘memory loss’

via Bonus saga and Mugabe ‘memory loss’ – New Zimbabwe 26/04/2015

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, 91 this year, either suffered fleeting memory loss or deliberately lied when he claimed that Cabinet never discussed the scrapping of bonuses for civil servants, a senior Zanu PF official has said.

“There is a real possibility that the president experienced some memory loss because of advanced age,” said our source Sunday.

“The fact of the matter is that Cabinet discussed and agreed the suspension of bonuses with just two dissenters; that is mines minister Walter Chidhakwa and tourism counterpart Walter Mzembi.

“Mugabe attended that Cabinet meeting which was, at some point, chaired by vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. So the claim that the presidency was either unaware or not consulted is an untruth.

“It could be that Mugabe either dozed through the meeting or left early, but to say Cabinet did not discuss or approve the decision is rather dishonest.”

Mugabe pulled a shocker on the 18th of this month as the country marked its 35th independence anniversary when he criticised finance minister Patrick Chinamasa’s decision to scrap the bonuses.

Reinstating the gratuities, Mugabe claimed that he was disgusted that Chinamasa had made the announcement without consulting Cabinet or even bothering to inform the presidency.

Chinamasa, pleading a crippling lack of cash, had suspended the bonuses until 2017 days earlier at a press conference attended by information minister Jonathan Moyo and Mugabe’s own spokesman George Charamba.

The opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai refused to believe Mugabe’s spin on the matter.

“It is highly unlikely that Patrick Chinamasa would have made such a ground-breaking and historic announcement before the matter had been fully debated and agreed upon in Cabinet,” said party spokesman Obert Gutu.

He added: “The MDC is utterly convinced that Chinamasa was simply articulating and announcing a policy decision that had been agreed upon by the Zanu PF regime.

“To be believe anything to the contrary would be tantamount to believing an unprecedented absurdity.”

And Gutu was spot on, or so our source suggests.

“It is unfair to claim that the presidency was not briefed. Mnangagwa chaired part of that Cabinet meeting and, if he was brave, he would own up,” he said.

“In fact, the clue is in Jonathan Moyo’s simply saying ‘cabinet discussions are confidential’. Indeed, briefing papers prepared by technocrats for ministers over the proposal are available and we have seen them.”

He added: “As for why Mugabe chose, in off the cuff remarks, to publicly embarrass Chinamasa is open to speculation.

“It may be that he did not, at that particular moment, remember the Cabinet discussion due to memory lapses associated with old age, but that is highly unlikely.

“More plausible is the suggestion that the old man was, after the fact (of the Cabinet decision) reacting to intelligence briefings and impact analyses which suggested there was outrage in the civil service over the decision.

“The whole thing was, for that week, the main subject of discussion in bureaucratic corridors. It’s not a secret that even permanent secretaries and under-secretaries were very bitter about it.”

After the public rebuke, the chastised Chinamasa said Mugabe’s decision would be implemented although it remains unclear where the money will come from with nearly 90 percent of government revenues already spent on salaries alone.