BY MOSES MATENGA
ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday joined millions of people across the world in wishing United States President Donald Trump a speedy recovery after the Republican leader and his wife tested positive for COVID-19.
Trump revealed yesterday morning that he, together with his wife, Melania, had tested positive for coronavirus.
The United States will hold elections next month where Trump is being challenged by Democrat Joe Biden.
“My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady (Melania) as they make a full recovery from COVID-19,” Mnangagwa said in a brief statement.
Trump said he is on the recovery path together with his wife.
The US goes into the polls amid a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed more than 200 000 people and infected over 7 million but experts say adequate measures have since been put in place to address the potential spread of the disease come election day, November 3.
Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University last week told more than 200 journalists who are covering the US elections virtually that adequate measures had been put in place to minimise crowding at polling booths to curtail spread of the highly infectious disease.
Several questions have been asked on what happens if a President is too sick to work.
Experts say if the president becomes unable to perform his role, the Constitution places the “powers and duties” of the office into the vice-president’s hands.
The 25th Amendment, ratified in the late 60s, makes this process clearer.
In the present situation, here’s how it could play out. Suppose Trump learns he will need to undergo major hospital treatment for COVID-19 that would mean he could not work.
He must then pen a letter to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the United States House of Representatives and Charles Grassley who is president pro tempore of the United States Senate to inform both chambers of Congress that he’s unable to serve.
At this point, the vice-president becomes the acting president.
Trump will need to send Congress another letter when he returns to say he’s ready to reassume the role.
But what happens if Trump isn’t physically able to send this letter?
Then, that responsibility will fall to Mr Pence, plus a majority of Mr Trump’s cabinet leaders. This group will then write to Pelosi and Grassley to say that Pence is immediately becoming acting-president.
Again, Trump will need to write the lawmakers when he returns to say he is no longer incapacitated.
If Pence and the cabinet disagree, then it’s up to Congress to vote on whether Trump is fit to retake control.
“While presidential incapacity would be a serious national situation, the government would be able to function in a largely uninterrupted way until the president is recovered,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow John Hudak explained in an analysis piece looking at this possibility earlier this summer.
Will the election be postponed if Trump is incapacitated?
It’s unlikely. The US has never postponed a presidential election before.
Any decision to do so would have to come from Congress.