WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe’s recently fired Vice President, Joice Mujuru, could soon be fighting to hold on to her position as Member of Parliament for Mt. Darwin, which, according to the new constitution, she should have given up, due to her holding public office.
Part 5 of the constitution, approved through a referendum last March, that addresses the tenure of a Member of Parliament, states in Section 129 (1) (a) that the position ends, “upon the Member becoming President or a Vice President.”
According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, some Zanu-PF members opposed to Mrs. Mujuru, have pushed to enforce this stipulation.
Constitutional lawyer and leader of the opposition National Constitutional Assembly party, Lovemore Madhuku, says there’s legal provision for such an argument.
“In this case, vice president Mujuru’s seat became vacant when she became vice president, it doesn’t matter that she was still regarded an MP,” Madhuku said, adding that, “the constitution was clear on that.”
Madhuku, however, disputes the legal basis for those trying to strip Mrs. Mujuru of her MP seat on the basis that she’ll continue to receive her full salary, following her recent dismissal from the position.
President Mugabe fired Mrs. Mujuru following the conclusion of the Zanu-PF Congress, after weeks of allegations of incompetence, corruption and plots to oust Mr. Mugabe from power.
Despite her dismissal, Mujuru is expected to continue collecting a pension estimated at $3,000 a month, the salary of her successors, Emmerson Mnangangwa and Phekezela Mphoko.
Madhuku says Mrs. Mujuru, if she chooses, can contest for her seat, even as a former vice president, but explains that she cannot continue claiming her hefty pension.
“She can stand as an MP. If she wins, before she takes the oath as an MP, she must renounce her pension and then receive the salary of an MP, and give away her pension.”
The catch, explains Mudhuku is, “if she doesn’t renounce, then she won’t be qualified to become an MP.”
Asked what legal recourse Mrs. Mujuru, has, considering the new constitution came into effect during her term as vice president, Madhuku says there is a possibility, due to flaws in the constitution.
“There is confusion in the current constitution. There are so many confusing provisions,” Madhuku said, referring to the fact that according to the new constitution, the provisions covering the vice presidents, technically take effect in 2023.
Despite the odds of winning, Madhuku said Mujuru, who has sworn to remain loyal to President Mugabe and the Zanu-PF party, should try to state her case.
“She must try if she wants to try…only a court will give her a final decision. Further, Madhuku added, “law is not like mathematics, where one plus one equals two. Law is always dependent on who is interpreting the provision.”