Watchdog says Chiwenga Health Ministry appointment illegal

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LEGAL watchdog, Veritas says the appointment this past week, of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as substantive Health Minister violated national laws, contrary to claims by other legal experts the decision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa was lawful.

Chiwenga replaced Obadiah Moyo who was sacked from the job July 7 after he got mired in a drug and kit tender scandal.

Said Veritas, “On the face of it the appointment seems illegal. Section 103 of the Constitution states ‘… Vice-Presidents … must not, directly or indirectly, hold any other public office …’

“This means that a Vice-President cannot be appointed as a Minister.”

Veritas said a similar situation arose in December 2014 when then President Robert Mugabe appointed Mnangagwa as VP but chose to retain him as Justice Minister.

The constitutionality of the arrangement was challenged in Court by the National Constitutional Assembly.

Those challenging the decision cited Section 103 of the Constitution.

The challenge failed on the ground that the then VP had been assigned the administration of the Ministry of Justice ‒ which was lawful in terms of section 99 of the Constitution ‒ without having been appointed Minister of Justice.

Veritas argues circumstances are now different.

“In this case however the official announcement states quite clearly that VP Chiwenga has been appointed Minister of Health and Child Care,” said the group.

However, this was contrary to sentiments expressed by Constitutional law expert and politician Lovemore Madhuku who defended the action saying precedent was set in 2014, when Mnangagwa remained Justice upon elevation to VP.

During the time, the NCA took Mugabe to the Concourt and the court ruled that Sections 99 and 103 of the Constitution must be read together.

“The Concourt has already dealt with this issue.  In 2014, when the then VP ED remained Minister of Justice, the NCA took President Mugabe to the Concourt raising exactly the arguments being debated now. The Concourt said secs 99 and 103 must be read together,” said Madhuku.