MMD faction president Nevers Mumba says former Republican vice presidents are subjected to poverty after leaving office as there is no retirement package for them.
In a statement, Tuesday, Mumba observed that the life that late former vice president Lupando Mwape was subjected to was heartbreaking and it raised a moral debate as to why government should honour former vice presidents with State funerals after neglecting them when they were still alive.
“Without disturbing the spirit of mourning, I wish to raise a pivotal issue, which relates to the plight of former vice presidents in Zambia. Although vice presidents actually act as President and play a significant role in the management of the nation, the occupants of that office have zero sustainable benefits once they leave office. The only sure retirement benefit has been a State funeral at death. Hon. Lupando’s death becomes an opportunity to raise this matter in the hope that government can ensure that those who serve the nation faithfully are taken care of after leaving office,” Mumba, who is also a former Vice President himself, observed.
“Those of us who knew and walked with the late Lupando Mwape remain heartbroken by the life he was subjected to. His case must raise a moral debate as to why a man who did not even have a place to lay his head should be given an expensive State funeral. In life, he suffered from lack, in death, he is treated as a king. This is not to belittle the honour of the State funeral, but to challenge Cabinet Office as to the morality of this status quo.”
Mumba bitterly complained that other public office holders and service chiefs had their retirement packages, but that the vice president had none, relegating them to destitution after leaving office..
“Former President, the Chief Justice, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Service Chiefs and civil servants have packages once they retire, but a former vice president has none. I, however, need to place a disclaimer that I do not raise this matter to benefit myself-having held this office, but to highlight a matter that has embarrassed Zambia for years, both at home and abroad. In most nations, a vice president leaves office with sustainable benefits. In Zambia, they leave office with debt arising from whatever loan they could have contracted. Everything is withdrawn: the security, staff, vehicles, diplomatic passport and are thrown onto the streets with no monthly stipend to help in paying off the loan they could have contracted while in office,” Mumba stated.
He said the sidelining of former vice presidents from retirement packages was historical, dating back to the UNIP administration.
Mumba, however, hoped that the PF government urgently corrected the situation.
“This problem of the nation’s number two comes from the UNIP days. Vice presidents Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, Secretary General of UNIP, Grey Zulu, prime ministers Malimba Masheke, Kebby Musokotwane, Nalumino Mundia, Mainza Chona. I believe, as MMD, we failed to secure these freedom fighters financially to give them a dignified life. Some have gone to the grave in great poverty. I am reminded of the immeasurable hardships the late former vice president General Christon Tembo went through in trying to pay for medical bills until we lost him. He was, however, given an elaborate State funeral. As MMD, we approved former Presidents’ package, but left out those who laboured side by side with them. I hope the PF can see the value of correcting this national anomaly,” he said.
Mumba, however, thanked government for having evacuated the late vice president Mwape.
“At the height of his public service, he remains as one of the few vice presidents who acted as President for a prolonged period of time when the late President Levy Mwanawasa was hospitlised in London. It was, therefore, befitting for the government to have evacuated him to South Africa for specialised treatment. We commend government for the gesture,” said Mumba.