By Daniel Chigundu
Prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has called on Zimbabweans to demand full disclosure of the exit package given to former President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe who resigned on the 21st of November this year following efforts to impeach him by Parliament is reported to have received a lucrative exit package that includes US$10 million, immunity from prosecution, and protection for his businesses among many other things.
However, there have been no formal communication from government with regards to the package given to the veteran politician who ruled Zimbabwe from April 1980 and people are largely relying on speculation and media reports.
Speaking during a Walter Kamba Law lecture series program organised by the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Mtetwa said it was surprising that nobody has demanded the contents of the package despite the fact that there is AIPPA which allows people to ask for information.
“We have heard of the immunity granted to the President who has just vacated office and the most incredible thing is that nobody has said can we have the full terms of the agreement with our former president. There has been a veil of secrecy as to what was agreed to.
“So whatever we have are snippets whether they are true, or false contrive we don’t know. What we know is there is an agreement and we have a piece of legislation called AIPPA, it’s a terrible piece of legislation as the journalists will tell you because it basically take away their rights, but it also has some very nice sections which say we are entitled to information.
“And we can ask for information and not a single body has tried to say hello people of Zimbabwe we are entitled to know what we have agreed to, we hear he has been given certain immunities, what are the terms of those immunities, but we don’t know what has been agreed to,” she said.
According to Section 98(2) civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a former President for things done and omitted to be done before he or she became President or while he or she was President.
However, Mtetwa says the immunity only applies to actions which are only within the functions of the President and not on any other issues outside.
“My basic understanding of immunity is that you are immune from actions you would have taken as a President in your course of duties which are within the functions of a president or whatever position or responsibility you occupy.
“But if you do certain things that are clearly not within the functions of the President you cannot be immune from that. If you commit criminal offences during your Presidency you cannot in my view be immune from that,” she said.
The award winning human rights lawyer added that “If you have a case where the law has been breached and citizens rights have been violated you cannot actually say I am immune because I was acting in my capacity as President.
“There is no state security minister employed to oversee torture, no permanent secretary employed to be part and parcel of torture. The President is not in office to violet citizens rights, is not in office to torture or violet human rights,” she said.
During his 37 year old tenure at the helm of Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s government has been accused of such atrocities as Gukurahundi which claimed about 20 000 lives, Murambatsvina which left thousands homeless, land grabbing which left many white farmers and their workers injured, homeless while others died.
He is also accused of promoting political violence against opposition supporters which resulted in loss of property, injuries and death of activists such as Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in Buhera.
These human rights violations received condemnation both locally and internationally leading to the restrictive measures being imposed against Zimbabwe by the European Union and United States of America.
It however remains to be seen if anyone will raise charges against Mugabe.