Doctors welcome Chiwenga appointment

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Blessings Mashaya
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
mashayab@dailynews.co.zw


IN A surprising development, doctors and nurses have welcomed the appointment of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, pictured, as Zimbabwe’s new Health and Child Care minister, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the powerful VP’s appointment has split both public and legal opinions — with some lawyers arguing that his occupation of a ministerial post violates the country’s Constitution.
The secretary-general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Aaron Musara, told the Daily News yesterday that their hope was that Chiwenga would manage to end the health sector’s myriad problems.
“Doctors welcome his appointment. Coming from the presidium, he will look into the issues affecting the health sector … we hope he will be able to bring the much needed change in the health system,” Musara said.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) also said Chiwenga’s appointment was a welcome development.

 

“As Zina, we welcome the appointees to the positions of substantive minister of Health and Child Care, as well as permanent secretary for the same ministry.
“It is our hope that the two appointees have been briefed on the situation prevailing in the health sector and what has led to the impasse between health workers and their employer.
“We look forward to being engaged on the basis of mutual respect, where our constitutional and labour rights to fair wage and not to work in unsafe conditions are respected.
“Further we look forward to having our demands acknowledged and met,” Zina said.

 

However, lawyers are split over Chiwenga’s appointment — which sees him having a dual role as both VP and minister.
Lawyer Obert Gutu is among those who say Chiwenga’s appointment is consistent with the Constitution.
“Section 99 and Section 103 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe are NOT mutually exclusive. The appointment of Vice President CG Chiwenga as Minister of Health & Child Care is, therefore, NOT unconstitutional,” Gutu wrote on Twitter.
But MDC vice president Tendai Biti said Chiwenga’s appointment was a violation of the Constitution.
“The appointment is clearly null and void and must be tested in a court of law. It violates the Constitution, but more than that it is irrational and grossly unreasonable.
“No person of sound mind, properly applying his mind, would have made the same,” he wrote on Twitter.
All the same, this is not the first time that a serving VP has been tasked with ministerial functions. Until last year, Chiwenga was also Defence minister.
Before that, the then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was also appointed Justice minister by the late former president Robert Mugabe.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku filed an application at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) at the time, challenging Mnangagwa’s dual roles — without success.
Zimbabwe has been operating without a substantive Health minister and confirmed leaders of public health institutions — following the recent dismissal of Obadiah Moyo on allegations of corruption and the sacking of hospital chief executive officers.
It was also operating without a substantive permanent secretary for Health and Child Care until this week when Mnangagwa appointed Zimbabwe Defence Forces director for health, Jasper Chimedza, to replace Agnes Mahomva who was moved from the post in May.

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