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BACEDE, MTHANDENI NOT PAID GRATUITY

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MANZINI – Convicted former MPs Mthandeni Dube and Bacede Mabuza have not been paid their gratuity, despite that all other former legislators were paid about two weeks ago.

According to Finance Circular No. 2 of 2013, the ex-gratia payment is a grant that is payable to former parliamentarians, to assist with the costs of adjusting to non-parliamentary life. This Circular states that the only reason for a former politician to forfeit the ex-gracia is if they were removed from office due to misconduct or incompetence. The Times gathered reliably that Mabuza and Dube, who represented Hosea and Ngwemphisi Tinkhundla, respectively, were left out of the payments.

Convicted

The two were recently convicted of Suppression of Terrorism charges, stemming from the political unrest of June 2021. They have been in jail since then, and were convicted in June 2023, ahead of the dissolution of the 11th Parliament in July 2023. Several MPs called yesterday confirmed that the ex-gracia was paid about two weeks ago. “Sesize siyicedzile,” most said, meaning they had spent it all. According to the Circular, the former politicians are paid a lump sum equivalent to their annual salary. This signifies that if each former MP was entitled to a basic salary of E51 104.83 per month, then the gratuity paid out was E613 258. “They have not received anything and are very worried because no one is explaining anything to them,” said a family source. She further said every MP used a large portion of the gratuity to settle certain debts accumulated over the years.

Debts

“Since it is assumed that there will be no more monthly income, this money is used to settle some debts. For instance, if a car was bought in the middle of the term, then obviously, it has to be settled with the gratuity,” said the source. It is on record that Mabuza’s businesses were affected by his incarceration, such that, of late, they had become a magnet for litigation.
Meanwhile, the MPs’ lawyer, Ben J Simelane, said he had not been appraised of the issue of the gratuity for the MPs. “At this moment, I can’t say anything because I don’t know what is obtaining on that end. I will have to ask them to advise me accordingly, if they so wish,” he said. Asked to give expert advice on the matter, he said all he could confirm was that the MPs were being paid their salary every month until Parliament was dissolved. “Apart from that, I can’t say anything before hearing from them,” he said.

Clerk to Parliament Benedict Xaba, said the nonpayment was a result of logistics. “As Parliament, we had to clarify some issues with the Ministry of Finance. We have just sent some clarifications and the Ministry of Finance is working on the issue,” he said. When follow-up questions were posed to find out if they would eventually be paid, the clerk said “At this stage, I can’t say anything.” Meanwhile, Setsabile Dlamini, the Communications Officer in the Ministry of Finance, referred questions back to Xaba.

Questions

“The Ministry of Finance is merely the custodian of the Circular. If you are asking questions on why a certain person was not paid, then Parliament is best positioned to respond to your questions,” she said. The ex-gratia payment is payable to all parliamentarians who are not  re-elected or re-appointed into the new Parliament. However, a new clause attached to the addendum to Finance Circular No. 2 of 2013 issued by the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance, Sizakele Dlamini, on September 27, 2023, states that the ex-gratia will be paid as a once-off payment, equal to 12 months basic salary before tax. It says that it will be paid to all parliamentarians and designated office bearers at the end of the 11th Parliament.
“In the event that the parliamentarian or designated office bearer did not fully serve the full five-year term of the 11th Parliament, the ex-gratia payment will be pro-rated, considering the actual period served,” it reads in part.

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