President Emmerson Mnangagwa remains Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, with full executive authority as granted by the Constitution, despite one opposition party challenging the outcome of the 2018 harmonised elections.
Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and Presidential Press Secretary Mr George Charamba yesterday said sections of society insinuating there was a power vacuum in Zimbabwe were ignorant of facts.
He said President Mnangagwa and his executive team remained in office, and he would preside over official Heroes and Defence Forces holiday celebrations tomorrow and on Tuesday respectively.
“Americans have a phrase that says monkey see monkey do. It actually comes from a nursery rhyme and that phrase among Americans is used to describe people who pretend to know things without understanding them,” he said.
“So that is the kind of ignorance that we are dealing with, of monkey see monkey do. The Constitution is very clear, it does not allow for an executive or legislative lacuna during a transitional period or what in political science is called an interregnum.
“What this means, in simple terms, is that the incumbent President and his entire cabinet, which gives you the executive, will continue in office until a new Government is sworn in.”
He continued: “So even if people who are peddling that misinformation, like it or not VaMnangagwa remains the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with all the attendant powers and ceremonies, including presiding over State occasions – of which Heroes and Defence Forces days are two such.
“Even if (MDC Alliance) challenge the results, for the full 14 days allowed in the Constitution the incumbent President remains in office.
“I assume people who are giving such misinformation don’t like VaMnangagwa except they don’t realise that it is precisely because of their hatred of him that they are actually extending his tenure, they are extending his tenure before he assumes a new mandate.
“The same persons who out of ignorance are saying the President is out of office are the same people who demand that he be accountable. They are the same people that demand him to be accountable for the events of August 1.
“How does he do so if he is not the substantive office holder and if he is not the Commander-in-Chief? So on unfortunate events he is responsible, on good things he must suddenly disappear?”
President Mnangagwa won 50,8 percent of the total votes in Presidential elections a fortnight ago.
On Friday, MDC Alliance – fronted by Mr Nelson Chamisa – approached the Constitutional Court seeking nullification of the poll results.
This was after Mr Chamisa was beaten into second place with 44,3 percent of the vote.
The ConCourt has up to 14 days to make a ruling. If the poll result is upheld, the President-elect must be inaugutrated within 48 hours of the ruling. Should the result be overturned, a fresh election must be held within 60 days.
The ConCourt has broad discretion to issue any other order.
In an interview yesterday, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi also said the court challenge did not strip the incumbent of his authority.
According to Section 94 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, “(1) Persons elected as President and Vice-Presidents assume office when they take, before the Chief Justice or the next most senior judge available, the oath of President and Vice-President respectively in terms of the forms set out in the Third Schedule, which oaths they must take (a) on the ninth day after they are declared to be elected; or
“(b) in the event of a challenge to the validity of their election, within 48 hours after the Constitutional Court has declared them to be the winners.
“(2) The incumbent President continues in office until the assumption of office by the President-elect in terms of subsection (1).”
Minister Ziyambi said the Constitution abhorred a power vacuum.
“Furthermore, tenure of the office of ministers and deputy ministers as provided in Section 108 of the Constitution generally states that they serve at the pleasure of the President and terms of office cease when a new President is sworn-in.
“So the net effect of these sections is that the President, ministers and deputy ministers remain in office exercising whatever powers they have according to the dictates of the law hence there is no power vacuum.
“The effect of the just-ended elections is that they are expected to usher in a new President, hence we talk of a President-elect because that individual will have to be sworn in to become substantive.
“The court challenge to the Presidential election results sets aside the swearing-in of the President-elect that had been scheduled for (today) until the court decides. The court has up to 14 days to make a ruling and if it dismisses the challenge, swearing in of the President-elect must be done within 48 hours.
“We are glad that the drafters of the Constitution never created a power vacuum that is why President Mnangagwa will lead proceedings on Monday for Heroes Day and Tuesday for Defence Forces Day.”