Confusion swirls over Jonathan Moyo

HARARE - Media, Information and Broadcasting Services officials yesterday claimed that Jonathan Moyo, who was booted out of Cabinet by President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday, was still in office even though our news crew did not see him for the three hours we picketed his office yesterday.

When the Daily News visited the minister’s office on the 1st floor of Munhumutapa Building at 12:30pm up to approxmately 3pm, we did not see Moyo.

The door to his office was wide open. His secretary claimed he was tied up with government business. Moyo’s aides were also conspicuously absent.

“Minister Moyo is in but he is tied up with something right now,” his secretary told the Daily News.

There was however, no sign of Moyo up till the Daily News crew left the premises at 2:55 pm.

He has also ignored inquiries on his dismissal, and routinely insulted people who questioned him on social media.

Moyo has also not changed his social media profile, maintaining that he was “Zimbabwe’s minister of Information, Media & Broadcasting Services”.

Moyo blasted one Asian man who had mentioned in a tweet he had been “fired” saying that his ancestors were idiots who had colonised Africa.

In another twitter conversation, Moyo was asked where he was tweeting from, and he replied from “cyberspace.”

Moyo also ignored a text message from the Daily News concerning his dismissal.

Moyo, who was appointed Information minister by President Mugabe as a non-constituency MP after the disputed 2013 harmonised elections from outside Parliament in terms of section 104(3) of the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe, won the Tsholotsho North seat in the June 10, by-elections.

Speaking on Moyo’s banishment from Cabinet, constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku told the Daily News that if it is true that some advice were given to the president suggesting that Moyo ceased being a minister upon becoming an MP, that advice would certainly be an incorrect reading of the Constitution.

“There are only two legal ways in which Jonathan Moyo may vacate office as a minister in the current circumstances,” Madhuku said.

“These are (i) being fired by the President and (ii) himself resigning.”

He said a minister appointed from outside Parliament remains a minister if he or she gains a seat in Parliament because subsection 4 of section 108 does not require such a minister to vacate office in those circumstances.

“On the contrary, the principle in the Constitution is that such a minister’s position is strengthened when he or she gains a seat in Parliament,” he said.

Madhuku said the president is only allowed to appoint a person from outside Parliament on the basis of that person’s “professional skills and competence”.

“In other words, the president must only appoint persons from outside Parliament if he or she is of the opinion that there are no such professional skills or competencies in Parliament.”

“The President is limited to only five such ministers,” he said.

“Thus, if some of the ministers find seats in Parliament, the spirit of the Constitution is satisfied and the President may either not appoint new ministers from outside or look for other skills still missing from Parliament to maintain the quota of five for outsiders.

“There is no new procedure required for a minister appointed from outside Parliament to continue with his or her duties after gaining a seat in Parliament,” he added.

Mcdonald Lewanika, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition boss, said the Moyo saga was clumsy and smacks of Zanu PF’s infighting nuances because to all intents and purposes it is an issue of swapping seats, which indeed could have been better handled if Moyo had stated his intention to do so and given up his non-constituency seat.

“Moyo’s being thrown out of Cabinet is what adds to the suspicious conduct because the law is that the president appoints ministers from parliament, not from non-constituency MPs alone, so Moyo’s Cabinet post should not be an issue or arise because Moyo is an MP and qualifies to be a minister,” he said.

“The president’s conduct in throwing Moyo out, shows either his lack of understanding of the situation or deliberate political gamesmanship, which saw an opportunity from the confusion around the matter.”

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