THE appointment of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as Minister of Health sparked a legal debate erupted among legal experts on social media.
The matter was started by MDC Secretary for Education Fadzayi Mahere who said, “That appointment is unconstitutional as it violates s103 of the Constitution. The Vice-President is not permitted to hold any other public office while in office. Respect the Constitution. The appointment is a nullity and must be set aside.”
However, Bulawayo lawyer Sindiso Mazibisa said the appointment of the President was legal because Section 103 must not be read in isolation but must be read together with Section 99.
“There is really not much into the issue because section 103 must be read together with section 99 which spells out the Vice President,” Mazibisa said. “According to section 99 the Vice Presidents assist the President in the discharge of his or her functions and perform any other functions, including the administration of any Ministry, department or Act of Parliament, that the President may assign to them. Technically it means as long as the Vice President does not hold any office outside cabinet and gets double salary he is within his rights to assist the President by administering any Ministry or Act of Parliament.”
Perfectly lawful but patently stupid.
Inzwaiwo Messiah kani. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter
— Thabani Mpofu (@adv_fulcrum) August 4, 2020
The matter was brought to finality by Professor Lovemore Madhuku who said there is a constitutional court determination on a similar matter.
“I have already responded to a tweet elsewhere that our Concourt dealt with this issue when the NCA challenged ED as both VP and Minister of Justice. The court said sections 99 and 103 must be read together with the result that a VP may lawfully be also responsible for a Ministry.”
Madhuku said. “According to the Concourt, reading the two secs together means: a VP may be made responsible for the administration of a Ministry. He need not be called Minister. On this interpretation ED combined VP and Justice; and later VP Chiwenga had Defence. Concourt will say so again.”