'Mnangagwa not Justice minister'

HARARE - In a view that could have far-reaching implications, the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, said yesterday that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not Justice minister as it was not admissible at law for him to hold the two offices at the same time.

“Who says he (Mnangagwa) is the minister of Justice? He is the vice president in charge of the Ministry of Justice,” Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba said as he led a full Constitutional Court bench that was hearing a case brought before it about the legality of VPs also being ministers at the same time.

Treading a careful line, Malaba added that in terms of Section 99 of the Constitution, vice presidents were appointed to assist the president in the discharge of his duties, including the administration of any ministry.

He was commenting on an application filed by University of Zimbabwe law professor Lovemore Madhuku, who was challenging the appointment of Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as vice presidents.

The two were appointed by President Robert Mugabe after former Vice President Joice Mujuru was sacked from the government having faced untested allegations of plotting to oust and kill the nonagenarian.

In his arguments, Madhuku and his National Constitutional Assembly party said it was not proper for Mugabe to assign additional ministerial duties to Mnangagwa and Mphoko, who also lead the Justice and Reconciliation ministries respectively.

But according to the country’s new Constitution, a sitting president or vice president is not allowed to hold any other public office.

The Constitutional Court agreed that Mnangagwa was not a Justice minister, but that he was playing an administrative role in government and acting according to Mugabe’s instructions.

Madhuku, who was represented by Michael Majuru, who was in turn instructed by prominent lawyer Alec Muchadehama, argued that the appointments of Mnangagwa and Mphoko as ministers were unconstitutional, and therefore null and void.

Majuru said, “In respect of the second respondent (Mnangagwa), he ceased to be a member of parliament, but he remains a minister of Justice”.

Paddington Garwe, one of the judges, asked if Mnangagwa had taken an oath to be justice minister, adding, “You cannot be a minister without being sworn in”.

After Majuru conceded to the court’s findings on this, the application was dismissed by consent.

Madhuku had also argued in his application that Mugabe acted unlawfully by appointing two vice presidents to replace one vice president, adding that the option could only have been exercised soon after the president was sworn into office.

According to the Constitution, a president-elect is entitled to appoint, without delay, not more than two vice presidents, who “hold office at his or her pleasure”.

Madhuku said Mugabe’s decision to appoint two vice presidents 15 months after he himself had been elected constituted an inordinate delay that was not permissible in terms of the Constitution.

He also said that Mugabe was not entitled to change his mind on the person that he would have chosen to be his vice president during the course of his five-year term.

He said Mugabe’s decision to choose two other vice presidents was a burden to the country, considering that a person who ceased to be a vice president earned a pension for life, which is equivalent to the salary of a sitting vice president.

Comments (3)

Saka nyika yenyu haina justice minister? Mface uyu arikuita zvaanoda nesu, all because hatina opposition party!

Ndosvotwa Mhani - 3 July 2015

murikuti the president should choose his vice without delay ,ko kana asati awana the right candidate anodii , i guess he/she waits untill he/she finds the right candidate .............

dhagu - 4 July 2015

Kana party yako yakafa zvekuti u can't find a VP in days then u shouldn't be in office

Ndosvotwa Mhani - 4 July 2015

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