Mugabe appointment stirs storm

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ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has petitioned President Robert Mugabe to reverse the appointment of Bishop Emeritus Ambrose Moyo as National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) chairperson, insisting the appointment is unconstitutional and unlawful. 

Mugabe appointed Moyo, a founding member of the Ecumenical Church Leaders’ Forum , last month together with eight other NPRC members.

ZLHR has engaged Mupanga Bhatasara Attorneys to fight Moyo’s appointment on the grounds that it did not meet constitutional requirements. The consitution stipulates that the chairperson must have legal background, but Moyo does not.

Advocate Tonderai Bhatasara told the Zimbabwe Independent he had written to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to question Moyo’s appointment.

The letter was also copied to the Judicial Service Commission, Attorney-General Prince Machaya and Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda.

“We got an instruction from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to question the appointment of Bishop Moyo as National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chair,” Bhatarasa said.

“So we wrote a letter addressed to the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Judicial Service Commission, Attorney-General and Speaker of Parliament and it was delivered on December 4.”

He added that: “Clearly he (Moyo) is not qualified in terms of the constitution. Moyo also seems to be surprised by the appointment if we are to consider recent media reports which suggest he got to know about the appointment in the newspaper. The letter sought to get clarification from them, to indeed confirm that they appointed Moyo as chair despite him not having a legal background.”

According to section 251 (1a) of the Constitution, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission shall consist of a chairperson appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

Section 251 (2) states that the chairperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission must be a person who has been qualified for at least seven years to practice as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe.

Bhatasara said the OPC has not responded to the letter.

“We hope to get a date when Moyo will be sworn in and challenge it in the courts,” he said.

According to the Ecumenical Church Leaders Forum website, Moyo graduated in 1978 with a Masters in Theology, Masters in Arts and a PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to that, he served as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rhodesia for three years after which he got a scholarship to Harvard.

Addressing editors attending a conflict prevention, management, resolution and transformation reporting workshop held in Harare recently, Moyo said his appointment as chair of NPRC came as a shock to him and he was still coming to terms with it.

Other members appointed to the NPRC include, Lilian Chigwedere, who will serve as deputy chairperson, Patience Chiradza, Choice Ndoro, Netty Musanhu, Charles Masunungure, Geoffrey Chada, Leslie Ncube and Godfrey Chekenyere.

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