Mnangagwa violates constitution over new Zacc chair appointment 

Source: Mnangagwa violates constitution over new Zacc chair appointment – NewsHawks

President Emmerson Mnangagwa defied public uproar, including legal experts’ concerns, and proceeded to swear in Deputy Prosecutor-General Michael Reza as new Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chair to replace Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo, now Prosecutor-General, despite that his move is grossly unconstitutional.


His move has left Zacc stuck with a compromised chair and enveloped in an aura of illegality, while the constitution lies brazenly violated.

A core tenant of Zimbabwe’s faltering constitutional democracy is that no one — not even the president — is above the law.

This goes to the absolute core of how the rule of law functions in Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa appointed Reza in terms of Subsection 1 (a) of section 254 of the constitution. His controversial appointment on Tuesday to replace Matanda-Moyo does not meet the required seven years experience in legal practice for him to take that position.

Mnangagwa ignored immediate grave concerns that his appointment violated the constitution. A senior legal official in the Office of the President and Cabinet immediately tried to alert Mnangagwa to the unlawful appointment to reverse it on Tuesday evening, but she was blocked. Yet the constitution is clear.

Any Zacc commissioner who is a lawyer must have seven years legal practice or be eligible to be appointed a judge or has been a High Court or Supreme Court judge. Reza registered to practice law in 2020.

He applied to join the Law Society of Zimbabwe the same year. This means he only has about four years experience, which is not enough for him to become a Zacc commissioner, worse still its chairperson.

Reza holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of South Africa and a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from the Midlands State University, but does not qualify to be a commissioner, let alone chairperson.

Apart from the need to have seven years experience in legal practice, the other alternative and relevant requirement for Reza is having 10 years  experience in investigating crime.

However, even if Mnangagwa appointed Reza on the basis that one can be a commissioner if they have 10 years experience in investigating crime, the problem is that after the removal of Matanda-Moyo and Jessie Majome, there is no lawyer in the commission, more-so with the constitutionally required seven years experience. Majome has been appointed chairperson of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

While some lawyers say Reza does not necessarily need to have seven experience if there is already another qualified lawyer in the commission, others say he is technically out because he does not meet basic requirements to be a commissioner in the first place through the legal route, his own profession.

Reza’s sympathisers and allies say that he came in through the requirement that he has at least 10 years’ experience in investigating crime. However, analysts say Reza is neither qualified nor suitable to be a Zacc commissioner, more-so chairperson, for various reasons.

Besides, Reza is entangled in several controversies on cases of persecution by prosecution of opposition activists and leaders, and some corruption cases.

Qualifications for lawyers

Legal practitioners (i.e. lawyers) have to possess certain qualifications before they can be registered and allowed to practise in Zimbabwe.

The qualifications for registration are set by a body called the Council for Legal Education which is established in terms of the Legal Practitioners Act.

Generally persons are qualified to be registered if: l They have a degree, diploma or certificate which the Council has declared to be a “designated legal qualification”; and

  •  They have passed one or more professional examinations set by the Council. There are two ways in which the Council can declare qualifications to be designated legal qualifications:
  •  It can publish a general designation notice in the Gazette. Holders of qualifications designated in this way are automatically exempted from writing the Council’s professional examinations before they are registered as legal practitioners.
  •  If a person who holds a particular qualification — usually a foreign one — applies to the Council, the Council can designate the qualification in relation to that particular holder, provided the holder passes all or most of the professional examinations.

The Council decides on an individual basis which examinations the person should write. Until now the only qualifications that enjoyed general designation were the LL.B. (Hons) and BL degrees of the University of Zimbabwe and the BL (Hons) of Midlands State University.

Holders of other Zimbabwean law degrees — for example the degree from Great Zimbabwe University — had to apply individually to the Council for designation of their degree before applying to the High Court for registration.

New Designation of Qualifications Last Friday, in SI 240 of 2021 [link], the Council extended the general designation to cover all the following degrees:

University of Zimbabwe:

  •  The full-time LL.B (Honours) and BL degrees, and
  • The part-time LL.B (Honours) degree that began in 2016

Midlands State University:

  •  The BL (Honours) degree.

Great Zimbabwe University:

  • The BL (Honours) degree.

Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University:

  • The BL Honours degree.

The effect of the notice is that holders of these designated degrees will be able to be registered as legal practitioners without having had to pass the Council’s professional examinations.