Veritas Zimbabwe argues that when Mnangagwa appointed the commission there was no cabinet to advise him.
“Only on the 30th August, shortly before he left for China, did he appoint two Vice-Presidents and by doing so formed a cabinet of three – himself and the Vice-Presidents. Whatever advice the now Vice-Presidents may have given him before then they could have given only as informal advisers, not as cabinet members, because when they gave it they were not Vice-Presidents,” it argues.
Veritas says that under the Commissions of Inquiry Act the appointment of a commission is discretionary. The President is never required to appoint one. Hence, if he does, he must act on the advice of the cabinet.
It, however, conceded that since the proclamation establishing the commission has not been published, if Mnangagwa gets approval from his cabinet before the proclamation, then the commission would be properly appointed.
“The importance of establishing the commission in accordance with the law cannot be over-emphasised,” Veritas said. “Under the Commissions of Inquiry Act a commission has extensive powers of investigation:
- “it can summon witnesses and compel them to give evidence on oath, and witnesses who fail to attend or refuse to give evidence can be punished by up to six months’ imprisonment
- “anyone who tries to disrupt the commission’s proceedings can likewise be punished
- “anyone who lies when giving evidence to the commission can be punished by up to two years’ imprisonment.
“If the commission is not legally established, however, it will not be able to exercise any of those powers.”
The appointment of the commission has faced strong criticism from the opposition which says its composition is biased.