Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it is moving to impeach President Robert Mugabe accusing the veteran leader of “unconstitutionally” firing former Vice President Joice Mujuru from her post.
Mugabe summarily sacked Mujuru and eight ministers in an unprecedented Cabinet shake-up earlier this week, after they were accused of plotting to oust and assassinate Zimbabwe’s long-ruling leader.
But seemingly taking advantage of the ugly and increasingly violent infighting that is wracking Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party, the MDC is accusing the nonagenarian not only of citing a non-existent statute when he dismissed
Mujuru, but also displaying total disregard of the country’s new Constitution.
The party’s spokesman, Obert Gutu, told the Daily News yesterday that Mugabe had displayed “flagrant” disrespect for the country’s Constitution.
“Mugabe violated the Constitution and because of that he can and should be impeached. He cannot violate the supreme law of the land.
“By firing Mujuru the way he did, Mugabe has violated the Constitution, as a president and his deputy can only be fired in accordance with the Constitution.
“Those are good grounds for impeaching the president. So we dismiss the purported dismissal of Mujuru as a non-event,” Gutu said.
Although analysts said yesterday that the prospects were slim for the MDC to successfully impeach Mugabe, as the party had minority seats in Parliament, the main opposition still believed that it could succeed in its mission, particularly taking into account the current disquiet in the ruling party — caused by the ongoing brutal purges of members perceived to be loyal to Mujuru.
Legal experts also say Mugabe can be impeached if the MDC can prove that he has wilfully violated the Constitution or is incapable of holding office due to physical or other incapacity.
But in order to have the necessary two-thirds vote needed to achieve such a move, the MDC would need the support of disaffected Zanu PF MPs.
The Zanu PF leader, his wife Grace and their acolytes have accused Mujuru and her camp of conniving with the MDC, Western powers and almost laughably with witchdoctors and some churches to remove him from power.
In that light, the move to impeach the 90-year-old is likely to be interpreted by Mugabe and his supporters as confirmation of the conspiracy that they have been desperately trying to sell to anyone who has cared to listen about the alleged MDC/Mujuru ties.
However, speaking in an interview with the Voice of America’s Studio 7 radio station on Tuesday night, Mujuru emphatically stated that she would not leave Zanu PF, as it was the only party that she had known all her life.
Alex Magaisa, a Kent University law lecturer, yesterday said Mugabe may have erred in the manner in which he removed his VP from office.
He said Mugabe should have opted to fire Mujuru using section 14(2) of the Sixth Schedule, which stipulated that the VP served at the president’s pleasure, as this would not have burdened Mugabe with having to give unconvincing reasons as to why he fired her.
In a terse statement announcing Mujuru’s dismissal, chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda said Mugabe had exercised his executive powers to relieve Mujuru of her “position of Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect as it had become evident that her conduct in the discharge of her duties had become inconsistent with her official responsibilities.
“In terms of Section 108 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) Act 2013, His Excellency the President, Cde R G Mugabe has relieved the … ministers of their duties with immediate effect as it had become apparent that their conduct and performance were below the expected standard,” Sibanda said.
But Magaisa argued that this did not add up.
“Mugabe’s act of firing Joice Mujuru is an administrative act.
Further, he has purported to give reasons for firing her. The problem is that these reasons are too general, vague and not specific enough for her to defend herself.
“She has rights that are protected by law, including the right to demand detailed reasons to enable her to construct her defence and the right to a fair hearing in order to defend herself against any allegations thrown at her,” he said.
Magaisa added that in terms of the principles of natural justice that were enshrined in the Constitution, Mujuru had every right to contest her dismissal in court.
“In that statement, Mugabe is alleging misconduct, which any person, including Mujuru is entitled to contest if she does not agree with it.
It means therefore, Mugabe would have to prove the allegations before an impartial forum.
“He and or his witness would have to be cross-examined by Mujuru’s legal counsel on the correctness of his allegations,” he said.