The question of what will happen if President Robert Mugabe goes has been on the cards for almost two decades. Here is our take from The Insider of 18 June 1998.
Pressure has been piling on President Mugabe to go but the question that has never seriously been addressed is who will replace him if he goes? The country's constitution, which should be the nation's bible, is very vague about succession. It even implies that if the president dies or leaves office elections should be held within 90 days.
"An election to the office of President shall take place within ninety days before the term of office of the President expires…… or after the office of President becomes vacant by reason of his death or his resignation or removal from office in terms of this constitution," it says.
While there is a section on an acting president, this section states: "When ever the office of President is vacant or the President is absent from Zimbabwe or is unable to perform the functions of his office by reason of illness or any other cause, his functions shall be assumed and performed, where there is only one Vice-President, by that Vice-President; or where there are two Vice-Presidents (which is the case at present), by the Vice-President whom the President has designated for such an eventuality; or by the Vice-President who last acted as President in terms of this section where neither Vice-President has been designated for such an eventuality…."
The constitution, however, clearly states that anyone acting as president "shall not exercise the power of the President to declare war or make peace; or enter into any international convention, treaty or agreement; dissolve or prorogue Parliament; appoint or revoke the appointment of a Vice-President, Minister or Deputy Minister; or assign or reassign functions to a Vice-President, Minister, Deputy Minister, including the administration of any Act of Parliament or of any Ministry or department, or to cancel any such assignment of functions." This seems to imply that an acting president has no powers at all but just to hold the fort.
And while Parliament has powers to remove a president, this can only be done if a report prepared by a committee of Parliament appointed by the Speaker upon the request of not fewer than one-third of the members of Parliament has recommended the removal of the President on the ground that "he" has acted in wilful violation of the constitution, that "he" is incapable of performing the functions of "his" office by reason of physical or mental incapacity or gross misconduct, and the members of Parliament have resolved by the affirmative votes of not less than two- thirds of their total number that the President should be removed from office.
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