20 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Impeachment Not Easy, Warns Legal Think-Tank

Photo: allafrica.com
President Robert Mugabe, left, has been displaced by his long-time comrade-in-arms, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A top legal think-tank, Veritas, has warned that the option of impeaching President Robert Mugabe would not as easy as widely thought as it takes much longer to execute and involves cumbersome processes that must be followed.

President Mugabe is under pressure to resign as he seemed to have survived nearly a week of intense military pressure for him to surrender his job.

The under-fire Zimbabwean leader has refused to leave and has exploited the military's apparent attempts to camourflash any impressions of a coup against the State leader.

A Zanu PF central committee gave the embattled leader up to 12pm this Monday to resign or face impeachment.

But Veritas warned this may not be so easy as the President also has recourse to the law which could buy him time to craft his escape from political extermination.

"Impeachment is an elaborate process and would take time to complete," said the NGO through its regular bulletins on parliament and the courts.

"How long is difficult to say, because Parliament's Standing Orders do not specify what notice must be given of impeachment motions, nor how joint sittings of the two Houses are convened - in fact they do not deal with impeachment at all.

"In the absence of a laid-down procedure, presumably the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, the Speaker and the staff of Parliament will make it up as they go along.

"The process, according to Veritas needs at least several days to complete."

Processes that come in between include a day's notice to parliament, detailed grounds of impeachment, a joint sitting by the two houses and a committee appointed to investigate and submit a report into alleged acts of misdemeanor.

"The committee would have to investigate the grounds of impeachment and give the President an opportunity to state his case [and the President would have no incentive to be brief] and to prepare a report to Parliament," said Veritas.

"Another joint session would have to be convened to consider and vote on the committee's report."

Veritas said the process of impeachment, if successful, would still leave Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko in an acting capacity, defeating the purpose of getting rid of one of President Mugabe's allies.

"The fact that he (Mphoko) may be outside the country, or in detention, or stripped of his party position and membership does not alter his status as Vice-President.

"If Vice-President Mphoko were to resign then there would be no Vice-President, and only a President can appoint another Vice-President," said the group.

"A much simpler option would be if Mr Mugabe were to retire and appoint a new Vice-President before doing so."

Earlier reports on Sunday suggested that the President had dissolved parliament in attempts to smother his impeachment.

Veritas said this was not a legal option as the Zimbabwean leader is not empowered by the Constitution to dissolve parliament.

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