Mugabe abusing presidential powers

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe might have acted contrary to the Constitution when he invoked  Presidential Powers, which could render his action null and void, constitutional law experts said yesterday.

This comes after Mugabe last week invoked presidential powers to amend the Electoral Act and to stay the attachment and sale in execution of Chitungwiza Municipality’s property.
The regulations came into force immediately, but will expire after 180 days. 

To avoid the regulations expiring, government will now have to bring the new regulations before Parliament to validate the president’s amendments.
The new Constitution adopted in 2013 proscribed Mugabe from using the Presidential Powers Act to promulgate law, except where there is proper and sound justification as to why there is need to use them.

Constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa said the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act not only delegates primary law-making power to the president but was ultra vires the new charter.
“The continued use of the Presidential Powers Act is unconstitutional. The Electoral Act can only be amended by primary legislation,” Magaisa said on microblogging site twitter.

“…it’s a toxic precedent. The Presidential Powers Act is unconstitutional.”
MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese said although the laws were necessary, Mugabe should respect the Constitution and set an example of adherence to the rule of law.

“The new constitution is clear on the separation of powers and the role of Parliament but old habits die hard,” Gonese said.       
Law watchdog, Veritas, said it was not correct for Mugabe and government to continue using repealed sections of the constitution.

“The Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act is unconstitutional in its entirety and therefore invalid, making regulations under the Act also invalid.
“But the government does not agree and it has continued to use the Act to gazette regulations covering a fairly wide range of controversial issues; it seems determined to treat the Act as valid law until a court decides otherwise.

“So far, no one has launched a successful legal challenge to the government’s position.  But it is believed that a current High Court application raises the issue.
Veritas said giving Mugabe sweeping power to enact regulations on anything which can be covered by an Act of Parliament is a clear violation of the principle of separation of powers.

“It is true that section 134 of the new Constitution allows Parliament to delegate power to make statutory instruments such as regulations but, unlike the old constitution, the section places severe restrictions on any such delegation.”

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