UNCERTAINTY shrouds how beleaguered vice-president Joice Mujuru, whose allies have been purged from Zanu PF structures, can be removed from office given the current overlaps between the old and the new constitutions.
It is not clear whether a vice-president, in this case Mujuru, who stands accused of plotting to oust a president, can be removed from office in terms of the old or new constitution. According to the old constitution, a vice-president is appointed at the pleasure of President Robert Mugabe and would possibly be removed any time at his discretion.
Constitutional expert Alex Magaisa said there are two contrasting methods for removing vice-president from office.
“The first method of is contained in section 97 (of the old constitution). This provision deals with the removal from office of the president or vice-president. There are four grounds that are mentioned in section 97, upon which the removal of the vice-president can be based,” Magaisa said.
“These include: serious misconduct, failure to obey, uphold or defend the constitution, inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity,” he said.
Magaisa added that “the procedure for removing a vice-president on these grounds is that an investigation will be launched if at least half of the total membership of the National Assembly and Senate, sitting jointly, pass a resolution that the vice-president should be investigated on any of these grounds.”
“This investigation must be carried out by a nine-member committee that is drawn from both Houses and chosen by the Committee of Standing Orders and Rules of Parliament (the Joint Committee).”
Since the controversial entrance of First Lady Grace Mugabe into Zanu PF’s mainstream politics, Mujuru has been viciously attacked and accused of incompetence, corruption, extortion and trying to topple or assassinate Mugabe, among a litany of accusations.
Surprisingly Mugabe has remained mum even after being urged by his own wife to dump her from the party and government. He, however, endorsed the removal of Mujuru when he said “when a marriage breaks down, a divorced wife is given time to pack instead of chasing her on the spur of the moment”.
Another method of removing vice-president, according to Magaisa, is under Section 14(2) of the Sixth Schedule of the new constitution. “Section 14(2) of the Sixth Schedule provides that the person who is elected as president, ‘must appoint not more than two vice-presidents, who hold office at his or her pleasure’. It was in accordance with this provision that Mugabe appointed Mujuru as vice-president after the July 31 election,” said Magaisa.
The new constitution has its own grounds of removing a vice-president and the process to be followed which goes through parliament. — Staff writer.