Madhuku calls for introduction of by-election for president

Prof Lovemore Madhuku
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NATIONAL Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader, Lovemore Madhuku says the country should do away with a constitutional clause that allows a sitting president’s party to appoint his or her successor in the event of the death or removal of the incumbent under any circumstances.

He was joined in his call by one-time spokesperson to late former President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire.

The two were co-panellists at a Heal Zimbabwe Trust organised public discussion on the controversial Constitutional Amendment No. 2 which seeks to scrap provisions making it compulsory for presidential candidates to appoint their running mates.

Madhuku, a constitutional expert who also contested the 2018 presidential election, said it was improper for political parties to determine who should become the next president outside a national poll.

Precedent was set when then President Emmerson Mnangagwa was allowed to become state leader after the military ouster of then President Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Madhuku felt there was everything wrong with the practice.

“What we did in November is we got Mnangagwa from nowhere as a nation; he came from Zanu PF…we must not put in the constitution of the country, a provision that is dependent on what happens in a political party,” said Madhuku.

“We must never put in the constitution of Zimbabwe that if a sitting president dies or resigns, we will wait to hear what the political party of that president is saying. No, that is not the best way to run a country.

“A country is run on the basis of either an election or you have parliament aided institutions sitting as an electoral college…but never to allow a political party to sit there and say we are giving you a president.”

Mawarire, on his part, said drafters of Zimbabwe’s supreme law were wrong when they gave political parties power to forward names of a replacement president in the event of incapacitation or death of an incumbent.

“The drafters of the constitution assumed that it is not the individual who was elected by the people but the party that he represents,” said the one time journalist.

“That is why we do not have a by-election when the president resigns as what happened on 21 November 2017.

“So, there is that contradiction. If the president was directly elected by the people, if that president is no longer there, give the people a chance to elect a person who comes after that president.

“Do we have a by-election that will involve the whole country, or do we have parliament sitting and electing a president.”

In the current set-up, Zimbabwean by-elections are called only when an MP or councillor leaves the seat.