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Minister holds post 'illegally'
Valentine Maponga, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
July 31, 2005

http://www.thestandard.co.zw/read.php?st_id=2906

SITHEMBISO Nyoni, the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development is now in Cabinet illegally, The Standard can reveal. The Standard understands that Nyoni's term of office expired on 15 July this year.

In what appears to be a flagrant disregard of the laws of Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe continues to accommodate the minister in his Cabinet despite the expiry of a constitutional three-month grace period that allowed him to regularise her appointment.

Under Zimbabwean laws, a person can only occupy a ministerial position if he or she is a duly elected Member of Parliament or a Non-Constituent MP.

Appointing Nyoni, who lost the Bulawayo South constituency in the 31 March parliamentary elections to the Cabinet in April this year, Mugabe said he wanted to ensure gender balance and promised to make arrangements for her to become an MP.

However, since the swearing in ceremony for the Sixth Parliament and the subsequent parliamentary sessions, Mugabe has not found a way out of the legal quagmire.

Up to now, Nyoni has not set foot in Parliamentary chambers. Her name and ministry do not appear in the official parliamentary publication, the Hansard. Only that of her deputy minister, Kenneth Mutiwekuziva, the Member of Parliament for Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe is listed.

Nyoni could have either gotten into parliament through a by-election or if Mugabe had asked one of the appointed MPs to resign. Another avenue would have been if Zanu PF had fast-tracked the re-introduction of the senate where a number of party officials who did not win parliamentary elections are expected to find sanctuary.

Nyoni could have contested the Mudzi by-election, in Mashonaland East, but the Zanu PF provincial executive said they could not accommodate the minister as they had already come up with their own candidate, Christopher Muza. The constituency fell vacant after Ray Kaukonde was appointed the provincial governor for Mashonaland East.

Arnold Tsunga, the director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), said they were filing a court application against the minister's position in Cabinet.

He said according to the Constitution, Nyoni was now sitting in the Cabinet illegally.

"The President should have regularised that position during the three months grace period provided for in the Constitution. We are already filing court papers for her position to be declared illegal because she has no mandate to be in Cabinet," Tsunga said.

He said the President failed to use all the available options to ensure Nyoni found a constituency.

"It is very unhealthy to have a minister who does not seat in Parliament," he said.

When contacted for a comment Nyoni said she was operating legally: "If you want to know about my status, why don't you talk to the President because he is the one who appointed me. There is no illegality about my appointment."

Zanu PF national chairman and Speaker of Parliament, John Nkomo, said he was not in the executive. "That question is best answered by the executive," he said.

Patrick Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said: "Refer that question to the President's Office."

Mugabe is out of the country on official visit to China. His two Vice Presidents were not immediately available for comment.

Austin Zvoma, the Clerk of Parliament, said he was not the best person to talk about the Cabinet appointments.

"She has never attended Parliament and if you need a clear position on the issue talk to Patrick Chinamasa," Zvoma said.

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