President Emmerson Mnangagwa is engaging Parliament over the swearing-in of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe and the appointment of a new Cabinet, as he races against time amid reports that government business was virtually at a standstill.
Mnangagwa on Monday reportedly met outgoing Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to discuss the processes and procedures to take place, as the country awaits the appointment of Vice-Presidents and Cabinet ministers.
Yesterday, Mudenda confirmed “consultations” were underway on the matter, although he could not divulge definitive timelines as well as the processes.
“Indeed, consultations are underway with regards to the process and what’s ought to start. I am sorry I cannot share much or say anything further than that. I am involved and I am sorry I cannot help you even legally or the interpretation you so seek,” Mudenda said.
Mnangagwa is yet to appoint his Cabinet from elected MPs and five non-constituency MPs to be appointed based on their skills and technical abilities.
“At the moment, constitutionally, Zimbabwe does not have a Vice-President or a Cabinet minister because a new President has been sworn-in and all those who were ministers are no longer such. Whatever all these ministers are doing, it is illegal or in transition,” a senior government official said.
“The law is silent on what ought to start. The President might appoint since those elected are now known and were duly declared so by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. What is left for them is to be sworn in so that they could start parliamentary business,” another official said.
Mnangagwa is expected to officially open the Harare Agricultural Show on Friday before he leaves for China to attend the China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing that will be officially opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday.
Zanu PF Vice-Presidents — Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi — would not be eligible to act in Mnangagwa’s absence until being sworn-in.
Attorney-General Prince Machaya said the ministers were appointed from the pool of elected MPs, hence the swearing in of parliamentarians ought to start albeit circumstantial.
“Generally, the ministers are selected from the pool of elected MPs, so it should follow the same. But I am not in office to look further at what the law says in specific,” Machaya said.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said Parliament was still in discussion with Mnangagwa’s office as to when the ninth session would be officially opened to resume sitting.
Chokuda said the date for resumption of Parliament would be announced soon, but it must be within the 30-day limit stipulated by Section 145 of the Constitution.
It stipulates that the first sitting of Parliament following a general election will take place “at a date and time determined by the President. But the date must not be later than 30 days after the President elect assumes office in terms of Section 94”.
In 2013, the Eighth Parliament met on September 3, and ministers were appointed days after, on September 10.
Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said legally, Mnangagwa could appoint his Cabinet from a list of those declared MPs, as the swearing-in was just a ceremony that does not change the status of the member.
“Since they were declared duly elected, they are Members of Parliament and it would be competent for him to appoint from the same list. What I think is a challenge is for old ministers to continue acting as ministers after his inauguration. I think that would be incompetent on his part,” Muchadehama said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment, as his mobile phone was not being answered.
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