WILL she leave in a week’s time?
The writing is on the wall for Vice-President Joice Mujuru as not even the Constitution or any law can stop President Robert Mugabe from firing her, a development that is increasingly likely with each passing day.
Mujuru last week said calls for her removal or resignation were unconstitutional in her response to demands by First Lady Grace Mugabe that she steps aside or be fired at the Zanu PF’s congress.
However, law experts yesterday said Mujuru’s continued hold to her post solely rested on Mugabe, who could fire her at any time.
They indicated that Mujuru would have been safe had she been elected under a running mate system, which will only come into effect in 10 years from the day the new Constitution was adopted last year.
Lawyer and former Education minister David Coltart said the main provisions of the Constitution that protected Mujuru were not yet in effect, making firing her a simple task.
“In terms of the main provisions of the Constitution, the president cannot remove the vice-president, but in the interim, he has powers to do so,” he said.
“In future, when the president and the vice-president are elected, as in the case in the United States, he will not have the power to hire and dismiss, but for now he can.
“Section 14 of the Constitution (interim provisions) says the president must appoint not more than two vice-presidents who hold office at his or her pleasure.
“This is key and what it simply means is that the president has the power to appoint and dismiss the VP.”
National Constitutional Assembly leader Lovemore Madhuku, a constitutional law expert, added that appointees like Mujuru were not protected by the Constitution.
“It’s common sense,” he explained.
“The vice-president was appointed just like any other minister and for that reason, she can be fired anytime.
“Only half-baked lawyers can try to argue otherwise.”
Madhuku said the vice-president was an appointee and did not have the protection of the Constitution.
“She was hired by the president and appointees are not protected by the Constitution,” he said.
“She was only going to be safe if she had been elected as a running mate during the election.”
University of Kent law lecturer Alex Magaisa on the other hand put forward two scenarios for the sacking of the vice-president, describing one as onerous and the other simple.
“The fact is we have two contrasting methods of dealing with the removal of the vice-president, the onerous method under Section 97 and the less onerous one under Section 14(2) of the Sixth Schedule,” he wrote in a blog post.
“This means since there is an inconsistency between Section 97 of the Constitution and Section 14(2) of the Sixth Schedule, it is the latter that prevails in this situation.
“What is crucial in this provision is that it deals with more than just the appointment of a vice-president.”
Magaisa said the salient details in the Sixth Schedule were that the vice-president served at the pleasure of the president.
“Under this interpretation, it means that the president can dismiss the vice-president if he no longer has confidence in him or her,” he wrote.
“In other words, in this case, Vice President Mujuru holds office at President Mugabe’s pleasure.”
Under Section 97, Parliament will have to set up a committee that would deliberate on the firing of a vice-president, but the legal experts said this section was not relevant in this scenario.