FORMER Vice-President Joice Mujuru has finally lost her Mt Darwin West after Parliament on Tuesday wrote to President Robert Mugabe declaring the seat vacant.
This completes Mujuru’s total humiliation as just two weeks ago, she was the second most powerful Zimbabwean, yet she has been reduced to an ordinary Zanu PF member with no political office and little authority.
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda said Mugabe had been notified that Mujuru and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’ seats were vacant in terms of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.
“We have written to the President in terms of the Constitution and the Electoral Act,” he said in response to questions from our sister paper Southern Eye.
“The Constitution says she is no longer an MP. The same applies to Mnangagwa who loses his seat after his appointment to be VP.”
Mnangagwa was the MP for Chirumanzu-Zibagwe constituency.
Mudenda, however, said he could not disclose the contents of the letter he sent to Mugabe informing him of the parliamentary vacancies.
This means by-elections in the two constituencies should be held within 90 days from Tuesday, according to the law.
Efforts to get a comment from Mujuru yesterday were fruitless, although last week she said it was too soon to comment on her future plans.
Were she to contest, win her seat again and take up office, she would have to forfeit her lifelong pension from the State, which she earned by being Vice-President.
“Section 103 of the Constitution prohibits a serving or former Vice-President from holding public office while they are in office or receiving a State pension,” constitutional law expert and university lecturer Alex Magaisa explained. “The question is whether being an MP is a public office. A public office is defined in the Constitution’s Section 332 as a paid office in the service of the State.
“If an MP is regarded as a paid officer in the service of the State, then yes, she would have to forfeit her pension to hold office as MP.”
Magaisa said Mujuru could run and not lose her pension, as she could only lose it if she assumed office.
“So she might contest and lose and still retain her pension or win and lose her pension,” he said.
However, Magaisa said he did not see why Mujuru should contest elections as an MP, saying she “has a higher station and if anything, she must be aiming to contest for the Presidency”.
“It does not bolster her political stock to contest a Parliamentary seat,” he said. “She needs to be selling herself as a national leader, not as a constituency MP.”
Law experts had indicated that Parliament erred last year by not declaring Mujuru’s seat vacant to pave way for by-elections, in terms of the Constitution.
Experts cite Section 129 (1) (c) of the charter dealing with a legislators’ tenure in Parliament, indicating that a seat becomes vacant upon one member becoming a Vice President or President.