Zimbabweans may have to tolerate President Robert Mugabe a little longer because there is no provision in the country’s Constitution for a President to be recalled by his or her party nor for voters to vote in a referendum, or sign a petition, calling for the President to step down, legal think-tank Veritas Zimbabwe says.
The President can also not dissolve Parliament to prevent his impeachment.
If he tries to stop Parliament from sitting this would in itself be reasons for impeachment.
The impeachment process itself can be long and messy.
Below is a full explanation of the process
Constitutional Options: Can Parliament Remove the President?
The ZANU-PF Central Committee today resolved that if President Mugabe does not agree to retire as President it will instruct the party whip to start impeachment proceedings. There has also been mention of a vote of no confidence or of the Party not just removing him as President of the Party but also recalling him as President of the Country.
Are these feasible options? In this bulletin we shall look at the pros and cons of each of them.
Preliminary Point: Can the President Suspend Parliament?
Before considering Parliament’s power to remove the President we should first ask whether the President can pre-empt any attempt to impeach him by suspending Parliament –there has been an unconfirmed report that the President sent a notice to the Speaker directing that Parliament should not sit until further notice.
If the President did send such a notice it was invalid.
Under section 145 of the Constitution, the date of Parliament’s first sitting after a general election is fixed by the President but after that, under section 146, each House of Parliament determines the time and duration of its sittings. Any attempt by the President to prevent Parliament from sitting would be contrary to the clear terms of section 146 and, more generally, would violate the principle of separation of powers which is one of the principles of good governance that is a foundation of the Constitution.
If the President did try to stop Parliament sitting, that would in itself be a ground for impeaching him — which brings us to the main topic of this Constitution Watch, namely votes of no confidence and impeachment.
Continued next page