Cabinet approves contentious VP clause

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Cabinet yesterday approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2019 which removes the provision for presidential running mates — candidates for Vice-President — as well as lay ground for the President to fire his deputies.

BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

The approved amendments are seen as Mnangagwa’s attempt to consolidate his stranglehold on the presidency by giving him imperial powers to deal with his deputies at a time his party is being torn apart by factionalism.

“Cabinet considered and approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019 which the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs presented as Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Legislation,” Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said at a Cabinet briefing.

“Some of the salient amendments to be effected will include the following, provision, under Section 94 of subsection (2) to allow the President-elect, as soon as he assumes office, to appoint two persons to be Vice-Presidents who shall take their oaths of Office before the Chief Justice or the next senior judge available as set out in the Third Schedule.

Mutsvangwa added: “Setting out in Section 95 the conditions under which a Vice-President will vacate office, which include resignation, removal by the President, serious misconduct, failure to uphold the Constitution or inability to perform the functions of the office due to physical or mental incapacity.”

Section 92 of the Zimbabwe Constitution, stipulates that the presidential candidate must nominate two persons who will have to be directly and jointly elected by registered voters. The two nominees automatically become his deputies with one of them nominated to be the first vice-president.

Without changes to the Constitution, the running mate clause was to take effect in 2023.

But under the new changes approved by Cabinet yesterday, the vice-presidents would be appointed by the President, rather than being voted.

According to Section 95, a vice-president’s term ends with that of the President unless he or she resigns or is removed from office, when a new president comes in. According to section 97, a president or vice-president can also be removed by Parliament, a joint resolution by both houses, the Senate and the National Assembly.

The current Constitution does not give the President the powers to fire his deputy once appointed. It was the same supreme law used by the court to declare Mnangagwa’s ouster in November 2017 by the late former President Robert Mugabe as illegal. Mnangagwa eventually took over from Mugabe after the late nationalist was kicked out of office by his army commanders.

Cabinet was also updated on the fuel situation in the country by Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi.

“Cabinet assures the nation that necessary steps are being taken to ensure that the fuel situation is normalised during the festive season and beyond,” Mutsvangwa said.

“Indigenous oil companies will be issued with Letters of Credit to enable them to complement government in satisfying the market,” she added.

The country has been experiencing chronic fuel shortages for over a year with the situation having worsened ahead of the yearend public holidays.

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