Mnangagwa’s legal missteps: AG needs to step up advisory role

By Daniel Chigundu

Prominent constitutional lawyer Alex Magaisa says the Attorney General’s (AG) Office needs to step up its advisory role to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to avoid continuous legal missteps.

Since taking the oath of office on 24th of November 2017, President Mnangagwa has made several legal missteps which have left many wondering if he is getting enough advice or has competent advisors.

Among the list of missteps, Mnangagwa who is also lawyer by training announced that he had dissolved Cabinet, but the Cabinet had already dissolved by operation of law when he took the oath of office.

As if that was not enough, he went on to appoint more non-Parliamentary Ministers while the law allows him only five and he had to embarrassingly rectify the appointments.

According to Magaisa on his website (https://www.bigsr.co.uk/single-post/2017/12/04/BSR-Government-must-avoid-legal-missteps) it is unprofessional for the highest office in the land to make such basic errors.

“If the AG’s Office has been involved in these legal missteps, it needs to step up on its advisory role. However, if officials from OPC are not consulting AG or have been ignoring advice, they need to review their approach.

“The President may also consider having a panel of advisors to help navigate legal labyrinth. This will help avoid unnecessary errors which damage the standing of the highest office in the country. It is unprofessional to commit such basic errors as are on show,” he said.

Meanwhile, Magaisa has also urged Mnangagwa who assumed power through a Zimbabwe Defence Forces orchestrated coup to quickly appoint his number two as required by the country’s constitution to avoid making another legal misstep.

“…the President must abide by the constitution and appoint a Vice Presdient without further delay or it will count as another legal misstep.

“If his nomination as President was done with such haste and did not have to wait for the special congress, there is really no justification why a vice president should be conditional upon the outcome of that congress. The delay is unnecessary.

“Finally, rather than appoint two vice presidents, President Mnangagwa should consider appointing just one Vice President for the short period between now and the next election in less than 10 months. It makes economic sense but I fear this will give way to political sense,” he said.

Appointing a Vice President however appears to be a daunting task for Mnangagwa as he has to manage the well-entrenched regional balances courtesy of the Unity Accord between Zanu and Zapu.

While it will be a bit easier to choose a Vice President from the Zanu side, it is the Zapu side that will cause headaches and sleepless nights as there has always been jockeying for leadership seniority which is used for promotion purposes.

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