THE question keeps popping up: Is incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa a real lawyer? Does he have intimate knowledge on things legal?
By Learnmore Zuze
Could it be that he has mastery of the law, but is hostage to some invisible hand? How does one explain the bungling that has characterised his office as he took on power?
Who is really at the helm of this country?
Are there any consultations done first within the top echelons of power before decisions with far-reaching consequences are made?
Does the presidium understand basic legal things like the doctrine of separation of powers?
These questions are unavoidable in the wake of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s unilateral firing of nurses who went on strike after lawfully serving the requisite 14-day notice, which the government painfully ignored.
The nurses, as procedural, went on to strike in a move constitutionally meant to have their grievances addressed.
Instead of the government genuinely delving into the named health workers’ plight they chose the “Mugabeism” route of blaming every problem on politics and refusing to see reason.
Chiwenga typically responded in military fashion, dismissing the striking nurses and summarily urging old and tired retirees to report for duty.
He also called for novice medical professionals to attend to such a catastrophe.
One wonders at this rationale coming from a supposed national leadership.
How does a junior nurse, who has sat home in the last four years, suddenly come into the intensive care unit, for example, and operate the complex machines?
Some of the units at the major referral hospitals are actually challenging for nurses who have been on the job and it defies logic how amateurs should be able to handle such a crisis.
Coming back to the law, it is simple legal knowledge; in fact, basic legal knowledge that a nurse is employed by the Health Services Board (HSB) and thus can only be dismissed by the HSB. Nurses are not accountable to the President’s Office.
Chiwenga, as Vice-President, is an employee of the government, who does not have the wherewithal to dismiss people constitutionally raising labour grievances.
True, as the presidium, they should and must run around to address the overwhelming problem but it is simply unlawful to fire people who have duly complied with the legal process.
Their argument of the strike having gone political is something subjective and it is mischief of a kind to pin such a fatal decision on human perception.
It is not fiction that a hospital driver is earning more than the top nurse at a hospital, the principal nursing officer.
Mortuary attendants earn more under the ridiculous pay system. In light of these grievances it is immaterial whether or not the matter is political or not.
By-standers like us can clearly see that there is an industrial injustice that needs urgent redress.
Threatening people each time they have grievances is the ultimate Mugabe remedy which we thought the country had escaped from.
Now, happenings of the past week seem to give credence to the school of thought that Mnangagwa, as President, is simply a front for an invisible hand, presumably the military.
Mnangagwa as a lawyer, should clearly see the illegality and unconstitutionality of the firing of 30 000 nurses by a Vice-President.
Zimbabwe belongs to the people, it cannot be run in such a nauseating unilateral fashion.
This is the very things which had former First Lady Grace Mugabe the most loathed person walking on Zimbabwean soil.
Let the country be run in a professional manner. Let business be business and let politics be what it is.
It seemed to confirm everything when Mnangagwa, while speaking in Chipinge, went on to endorse the dismissal of health professionals.
One wonders, do these men, who obviously get medical treatment in South Africa and abroad, have an idea of the repercussions of their decision.
Have they been to hospitals and seen how people have died in the last few days?
The President, if truly he is a legally trained person, must appreciate the illegality of Chiwenga’s actions.
In ousting Mugabe, Zimbabweans backed the cause en-masse because Mugabe was one who never respected the Constitution.
That we see the same in Mnangagwa’s administration must worry us. There can be no dictatorial tendencies that surpass what we see.
A word of advice to Mnangagwa is that if he really values the people’s votes.
If Mnangagwa understands politics and the law, he must not nod to hastily made decisions.
It is him who takes the shame of being ridiculed for such injudicious decisions.
It is Mnangagwa who stands to lose thousands of votes due to such military style decisions.
A rationale manner of addressing grievances exists and Mnangagwa should know better than wantonly disregarding the Constitution to please his comrades.
Learnmore Zuze is a law officer and writes in his own capacity. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org