Robert Mugabe's attempt to dissolve Parliament dismissed

President Robert Mugabe’s legitimacy as Zimbabwean leader and his powers to dissolve Parliament solely depend on the Global Political Agreement (GPA), analysts said in Harare on Tuesday.

They said it was not true that the President could unilaterally claim to have the absolute powers to dissolve Parliament without consulting the other parties in the GPA since he assumed the Presidency through that shaky agreement.

MDC leader, lawyer and Industry and International Trade minister Welshman Ncube said the Constitution of Zimbabwe had to be adhered to and since Constitutional Amendment No. 19 had been incorporated into it, what it meant was that every proclamation made by the President, including dissolution of Parliament, should be made in tandem with Constitutional Amendment No. 19.

Ncube said at a media briefing at the weekend there was no clause in Constitutional Amendment No. 19 which limited the lifespan of the GPA.

On Sunday, President Mugabe returned home from Singapore and declared he had the “constitutional right” to dissolve Parliament and call for elections even if it meant using the old constitution.

President Mugabe said the inclusive government was not meant to be a permanent establishment and that if no consensus could be reached on the GPA to come up with a new constitution, he would cause the holding of an election this year.

However, lawyer and Deputy Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Obert Gutu said:

“The fact that it (Section 63) says subject to the provision of the Constitution means that for Parliament to be dissolved, the President has to comply with the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as amended. In this case there was Constitutional Amendment No. 19, which placed the GPA as an integral part of government. So dissolution should not be in violation of the terms and conditions of the GPA. It can happen but it would be unconstitutional.”

He said President Mugabe’s legitimacy was as a result of the GPA which was later collapsed into Constitutional Amendment No. 19. 

Constitutional expert Greg Linington concurred with Gutu saying since part of the GPA was incorporated in the Constitution, President Mugabe had the discretion to dissolve Parliament, but those provisions would require him to do so in consultation with the other principals on that issue.

Commenting on President Mugabe’s pronouncement, Constitutional law expert and chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore Madhuku, said as long as the GPA was still in force, President Mugabe cannot dissolve Parliament and call for elections without the consent of the other players in the GPA.

However, Madhuku said if the GPA collapsed or Zanu PF made it non-functional or say they were no longer interested in it, President Mugabe could revert to the old constitution, dissolve Parliament and call for elections.

“So he has powers under the Constitution only if the GPA has collapsed. If it (GPA) is still in place, he cannot do that,” said Madhuku.

He said the weaknesses of those who negotiated during the GPA was that they let President Mugabe remain in office under his old mandate and he still controls the state security organs such that he can do anything.

“They should have made it clear in the GPA that President Mugabe’s mandate as President lies in the GPA,” said Madhuku.

Tsholotsho North MP, Professor Jonathan Moyo, on state television said the Constitution as the supreme law of the country superseded the GPA and that it was high time the President stamped his authority on Parliament, which is highly dysfunctional as evidenced by the chaos taking place since the formation of the inclusive government.

“It is quite clear that the Zimbabwe electorate chose President Robert Gabriel Mugabe in June 2008, it is also quite clear who was created by the GPA, the Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai himself is a creation of GPA, why should a creature with such people be extended any day longer?’’ Moyo said. – NewsDay