Chiwenga’s Cannot Make Legal Decisions As Health Minister, Appointment Illegal

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By Staff Reporter

A LEGAL think-tank, Veritas, says Vice President Constantino Chiwenga cannot initiate any law-making procedures on behalf of the Ministry of Health as his controversial appointment to the portfolio last month was illegal.

Chiwenga was appointed Health Minister by President Emmerson Mnangagwa late last month despite claims he was constitutionally ineligible for the job when he was still substantive VP.

He came in as a replacement for the sacked Obadiah Moyo.

Chiwenga has moved to issue a Statutory Instrument amending an earlier Covid-19 lockdown order.

In terms of the Constitution, vice-presidents cannot hold a ministerial position, although they may be asked to supervise certain portfolios on a ceremonial basis.

Ministers are granted secondary law-making powers by the Constitution.

The SI, titled: Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Consolidation and Amendment) Order was published in the Gazette as SI 200 of 2020.

The new order re-enacts the previous order, incorporating all the amendments made to it, and making a few additional changes.

Some of the amendments include changes to the national curfew from 6 pm – 6 am to 8 pm – 6 am and rescheduling business closing times from 3 pm to 4:30 pm which were announced as a cabinet decision.

“The new order was purportedly made by ‘the Minister of Health’ but there has been no such Minister since Dr Obadiah Moyo was dismissed in early July,” Veritas said in its weekly bulletins.

“On the 4th August, the President’s Office announced that Vice-President Chiwenga had been appointed Minister of Health and Child Care with immediate effect.

“Such an appointment was illegal because section 103 of the Constitution prohibits vice-presidents from holding other public offices such as that of a minister ‒ though section 99 allows them to be given responsibilities including the administration of a ministry or department,” the think tank said.

“If therefore, the President’s announcement meant what it said ‒ that VP Chiwenga was being appointed Minister of Health rather than an administrator of the Ministry of Health ‒ then the appointment was illegal.

“The point is not just a legalistic quibble.  If the new order was made by someone who had no right to make it, then it is void.”