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President tramples on the law

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has set a dangerous precedent by increasingly trampling on the Zanu PF and state constitutions with impurity, a move which among other consequences could turn the country into a Banana Republic.

Owen Gagare

Since the run-up to Zanu PF’s December 2014 congress to date, Mugabe and Zanu PF bigwigs have either suspended or dismissed scores of party officials without subjecting them to disciplinary hearings for allegedly supporting former vice-president Joice Mujuru’s presidential bid.

Mugabe and his supporters went on to instigate the unprocedural amendment of the Zanu PF constitution during the party’s congress in December, giving the President power to appoint his deputies while also changing the manner the party president is elected.

A leading lawyer and researcher, Derek Matyszak, argues that Mugabe and his two vice-presidents, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, are holding their Zanu PF positions illegally as they assumed office in violation of the Zanu PF constitution.

Mugabe was controversially re-elected Zanu PF president, shortly after the party constitution was amended.

The amendments were, however, supposed to have passed through the secretary for administration’s office, then headed by Didymus Mutasa — but did not.

The amendments were unprocedural in that they were initiated by the central committee, violating Section 253 of the party constitution.
The section allows proposed amendments to be initiated by an individual member, provided the member can garner the support of 50 other members, while an organ of the party or the provincial executive council can also make such a proposal.

“Accordingly, if the amendments are valid, Mugabe’s appointment cannot be, and vice-versa,” said Matyszak in a document titled Robert Mugabe Way: Constitutional Amendments and Zanu PF’s 6th National Peoples’ Congress.

“Mugabe is thus not properly appointed as Zanu PF president, either because he was not appointed in terms of the amended party constitution (if those amendments were valid) or because he lost his post when the central committee was dissolved,” he said.

“The two party vice-presidents are likewise not validly appointed.”
Mugabe also violated the party constitution by not appointing a national chairman who should have been appointed in terms of Section 32(1)(c) of the constitution.

Matyszak argued that the entire Zanu PF presidium was therefore not properly appointed.

Mugabe swore in Mnangagwa and Mphoko on December 12, but it emerged Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku was prepared to preside over the ceremony believing it was his constitutional duty to do so, as mandated by Section 94 of the constitution.

The ejection of former Information minister Jonathan Moyo from cabinet last week also proved to be quite controversial as some lawyers said it was not legally-driven even if Mugabe pretended it was.

Moyo was appointed Higher Education minister this week.
Matyszak and other lawyers, including constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku, however said there was no need for Moyo to have been frozen out.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba last week said Mnangagwa ceased to be Justice minister in December when he assumed the vice-presidency even if some lawyers say he is still justice minister unlawfully as the issue was not handled properly in terms of the law.

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