A SENIOR official in the Parliament of Zimbabwe who was entrusted with the custody of former president Robert Mugabe’s forced resignation letter has been dismissed from work for gross negligence after the historic document vanished.
Zimbabwe Independent’s sources disclosed this week assistant clerk of parliament Johannes Gandiwa was relieved of his duties in June after a hearing presided over by clerk of parliament Kennedy Chokuda resolved he be dismissed for carelessness.
Sources said the matter came to light after the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) requested the original copy of the letter. The letter could not be located.
Mugabe resigned under pressure from the military on November 21, 2017, bringing an end to his 37-year rule.
The resignation letter, a culmination of a week of sustained military pressure and street demonstrations, was read out by the speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda as parliament was in the process of discussing a motion for his impeachment.
In the letter, Mugabe said the decision was voluntary even though he quit under military siege. He said he wanted to allow a smooth transfer of power.
The news abruptly halted an impeachment process that had begun against him and heralded the beginning of what was at the time thought to be a new era in the governance of the country. The Mnangagwa administration has, however, so far failed to deliver and finds itself preserving in the same autocratic system of governance which characterised the Mugabe era, along with a crumbling economy.
Gandiwa, who was third in the Parliament of Zimbabwe hierarchy after Chokuda and his deputy Helen Dingane, was tasked with the responsibility of keeping the letter safe.
“Gandiwa was fired in June after the OPC requested for the original copy of Mugabe’s resignation letter from parliament at the end of May. The letter could however not be located. He even confessed that he could not find the letter despite having filed it as he normally does with other records,” a senior parliament official said. “The fear was that if the letter could not be found, there was a realistic risk that Mugabe or his supporters could turn around and say he never resigned and the government would not have anything to prove otherwise. Talk is rife here that Gandiwa’s dismissal was ordered from the OPC. It was all very fast. I don’t think he was even subjected to a proper hearing. It was just a brief meeting presided over by Chokuda at the end of May and within a week, he was gone.”
Gandiwa confirmed his sacking from parliament in a telephone interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, but declined to give details over the phone.
“Yes it is true that I am no longer a Parliament of Zimbabwe employee, I left in June. I, however, cannot give details over the phone. I would have wanted to do so in person, but I am out of Harare at the moment,” he said.
Chokuda also confirmed the story, but flatly refused to discuss the matter, saying he does not have authority to discuss internal parliament issues with the Press.
“Yes, that is true,” he said when asked to confirm Gandiwa’s departure. “But I have an obligation to ensure that internal issues are kept within the institution. In other words, we don’t talk to the media about internal parliament issues.”
Sources also said Gandiwa was being accused of sympathising with Zanu PF’s decimated G40 faction which had coalesced around former first lady Grace Mugabe.