‘Constitution to guide us on Mujuru’s VP post’

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Vice President Joice Mujuru is likely to be removed from her Government post in a looming Cabinet reshuffle, with Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa saying that her case will be dealt with in accordance with the country’s Constitution. In an exclusive interview with The Herald after the closure of the 6th National People’s Congress on Saturday,  Mnangagwa said while VP Mujuru would lose her position in the party’s Politburo by virtue of failing to make it to the Central Committee, her position in Government was subject to the supreme law of the land.

Legal practitioners said the country’s Constitution had provisions for her removal from office since she served at the pleasure of President Mugabe who appointed her.

“As Vice President of the State, she is appointed in terms of the State Constitution,” said Minister Mnangagwa, who is the Zanu-PF outgoing secretary for Legal Affairs.

“We are in no way dealing with the State Constitution. We are only dealing with the party Constitution. So, in terms of the party Constitution, the entire Central Committee has been dissolved, including me and including her. We have all been dissolved.

“But those who have been re-elected to the Central Committee, we are now members of the Central Committee and she is not among those who have been elected in the Central Committee from Mashonaland Central, clear and simple.

“The President has received the new composition of the Central Committee. It is from that list of those who have been elected that is going to produce the two Vice Presidents, the national chairperson and heads of departments who will constitute the Politburo.”

Lawyers , said there were no complications if President Mugabe wanted to remove VP Mujuru from her position since the country’s Constitution had a provision for that.

According to the Sixth Schedule of the new Constitution’s section 14 sub section (2): “Without delay the person elected as President in any election referred to in subsection (1) must appoint not more than two Vice Presidents, who hold office at his or her pleasure”.

Former Copac chairperson and Zanu-PF Central Committee member for Masvingo  Paul Mangwana said VP Mujuru, just like ministers, is serving at the pleasure of the President.

“What it means is that the President can remove any Vice President just like he can reshuffle the Cabinet, a position that will obtain for 10 years until we introduce running mates,” said Cde Mangwana.

“So, the President can remove the Vice President or any minister when he no longer enjoys the pleasure of their company.” But MDC-T secretary general Mr Douglas Mwonzora, who was Copac co-chairperson and whose party VP Mujuru wanted to unite with had she managed to topple President Mugabe was singing a different tune.

“Our Constitution, I think sections 95, 96 and 97, we talk about the office of the President and Vice President where we specifically provide how a President or Vice President can be removed from office,” he said.

“Once they have been appointed they can only be removed through a vote in Parliament either in the National Assembly or Senate. The logic of our provision was to prevent a situation where the President or Vice President can be easily removed from office.

“The only other way one can remove ministers or VP is in terms of Section 195K which provides that where they have ceased to be members of the party, they may be removed as Members of Parliament and in the case of ministers by that fact they are removable as ministers.

“But for a Vice President, it is different because the Constitution specifically provides how and why they can be removed from office.”

Mr Mwonzora said the Sixth schedule which says Vice Presidents serve at the pleasure of the President could not supersede specific clauses in the body of the Constitution. But former Attorney General and war veteran  Sobusa Gula-Ndebele dismissed Mr Mwonzora’s reading of the Constitution.

He said Mr Mwonzora’s line of argument was void since that provision would be effective when the running mates clause comes into effect in 10 years time.

“They are serving at the pleasure of the President. That is exactly what it means (that the President can remove Vice Presidents). The issue of them being removed by Parliament was postponed for 10 years. It’s not valid for 10 years. It’s at the pleasure of the President at the moment,” said  Gula-Ndebele.

President Mugabe is expected to announce the new Politburo at an extra-ordinary session of the Central Committee tomorrow, which is likely to precede a Cabinet reshuffle.

A number of former Politburo members who failed to make it into the Central Committee whose positions in Government hang by a thread include VP Mujuru, Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche, Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire, Masvingo Minister of State Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Information and Communication Technology and Postal and Courier Services Minister Webster Shamu among others.

 

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