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Challenging Zimbabwe's bloated executive
Derek Matyszak, Research and Advocacy Unit Zimbabwe
July 13, 2010

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On Friday 13 February 2009, at a ceremony at State House attended by various international dignitaries, 35 individuals from ZANU PF, MDC-T and MDC-M were purportedly sworn in as Ministers by the President. On Thursday 19 February 2009, the process was repeated, with a further six individuals taking the oath. The result was that a total of 41 persons took the oath of office as Government Ministers, swearing to abide by the Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe.

However, Article 20.1.6(5) of Schedule 8 to the Constitution provides that:

There shall be thirty-one (31) Ministers, with fifteen (15) nominated by ZANU PF, thirteen (13) by MDC-T and three (3) by MDC-M.

Accordingly, once 15 ZANU PF nominated Ministers, 13 MDC-T nominated Ministers and 3 MDC-M Ministers had entered into office, the constitutional quota of 15 ZANU PF, 13MDC-T and 3 MDC-M Ministers (31 Minister in total) appeared to have been filled. The basis upon which 10 additional Ministers (referred to in what follows as "the extra Ministers") were sworn in thus becomes questionable. These 10 Ministers were John Nkomo, Gibson Sibanda, Saviour Kasukuwere, Joseph Made, Walter Mzembi, Flora Bhuka, Slyvester Nguni, Henry Madzorera, Giles Mutswekwa and Sekai Holland.

Until recently, no formal objection appears to have been raised in any quarter about these questionable appointments. On the 7th May, 2010, however, one Moven Kufa (describing himself as a Zimbabwean citizen and civil society activist) and the Voice for Democracy Trust (which has amongst its objects the promotion of democracy in Zimbabwe) filed papers in the High Court challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of the extra Ministers. The Ministers cited as Respondents to the Application are eight of the 10 who subscribed to the oaths of office after the quotas set out in Section 8 had been reached. Two of the ten were not cited - John Nkomo, who has since taken up office as Vice-President and Gibson Sibanda, who ceased to be a Minister by virtue of having no seat in parliament within three months of his appointment (a constitutional requirement).

Various interesting issues relating to Zimbabwe's political terrain arise from this Court Application which largely have been ignored by the media. In fact, only the Financial Gazette has even reported on the Court Application, a fact which is itself noteworthy and one can speculate on the reasons for this.

There are also various ironies which arise if the contentions within the Application are correct (and here we withhold comment on the merits of the Application as the matter is sub judice).

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