Mnangagwa makes a constitutional blunder

By Daniel Chigundu

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to dissolve Cabinet today could be contrary to what the country’s constitution says.

In a press statement sent out today 27 November 2017, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda announced that the President has dissolved Cabinet.

“In terms of Section 108 (1c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (number 20) His Excellency, the President of Zimbabwe Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has dissolved Cabinet, and is in the process of putting together a new team of Cabinet Ministers…,” said the statement.

However, Section 108 (1c) of the Constitution says “the office of a minister or deputy minister becomes vacant (c) upon the assumption of office by a new President”.

President Mnangagwa assumed office last Friday (24 November 2017) when he took the oath of office at the National Sports Stadium which means the moment he took the oath Cabinet dissolved automatically and cannot be dissolved today (27 November 2017)

According to seasoned constitutional lawyer Alex Magaisa who was also part of the Copac team that drafted the Zimbabwe Constitution, Cabinet is dissolved by operation of law and not by President.

“Section 108(1)(c) does not say Cabinet is dissolved by the President. It is dissolved by operation of law. No need for such elementary mistakes at the highest level of government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Patrick Chinamasa and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi have been appointed acting ministers of Finance and Economic Development and Foreign Affairs respectively.

According to Dr Sibanda, this is “to allow for uninterrupted services in critical Ministries of government” and that the two ministers are appointed in an “acting capacity until the announcement of a new Cabinet,”

The absence of a Cabinet is reportedly affecting Parliament business as there are no Ministers to present Bills or to answer questions on during Wednesday’s question and answer session.

The Finance Minister was also expected to present the 2018 National Budget on the 23rd of November but the dates had to be moved forward to the 7th of December 2017.

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