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Faux Pas: Zim’s Externalisation Ultimatum ‘Unconstitutional’

Harare – As the cash crisis continues to bite ordinary citizens, the ‘cash externalisation’ ultimatum pronounced by President ED Mnangagwa ...

Harare – As the cash crisis continues to bite ordinary citizens, the ‘cash externalisation’ ultimatum pronounced by President ED Mnangagwa in 2017 – believed to be around $3 billion, has no legal basis, law experts have said.

In 2017, Mnangagwa gave citizens who expatriated large sums of cash and assets abroad to repatriate everything or face the wrath of the law. Three months after the expiry, only $250 million has been returned – leaving the state with no option but to offer another grace period until March 19 or endure a public exposure.

The lack of legal brilliance has however attracted the wrath of the country’s best legal minds who agree that Mnangagwa lack of courtroom practice should not be a shield for his glaring legal shortcomings.

“You don’t necessarily have to practice as a registered practitioner. Legal skills are required in every facet of life. It’s very common to never set a foot in a courtroom as a lawyer. It’s not uncommon – there are many lawyers like that. But he should show legal skills where he is.
Cash Crisis Continues in Zimbabwe 

“Mnangagwa’s weakness is that he rarely shows legal skills, like his failure to read the Constitution properly to the extent of not knowing how many ministers can be appointed outside Parliament, or also not knowing what is meant by externalisation,” opined Professor Lovemore Madhuku, a law lecture and constitutional expert to the Daily News.

Tendai Biti – a senior partner at Biti Law explains that since 2009 – US Dollars, Rands or other currencies falling under the basket of currencies does not constitute a crime as provided by the Exchange Control Regulations.

“So the US dollar is legal tender, it is no longer foreign currency, so how does externalising it become illegal? So even though he is a lawyer, he is legally illiterate.

“It’s a reflection of lack of sharpness. There are lawyers who have never set foot in a court room but who won’t make the elementary mistakes that he is doing. His structural defect is that he is not sharp. Compare him with Mugabe, he is not sharp,” Biti explained.

According to the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) – an independent professional body of all registered legal practitioners in Zimbabwe – Mnangagwa is a registered lawyer, though he has never practiced.

“President Mnangagwa is a registered legal practitioner in terms of our legal records. He swore his oath of office at the High Court in 1982. But he never practiced, apart from doing his articles.

“That’s what I understand, that’s part of the records. He has been on the roll (of lawyers) since 1982. He did his articles under Dumbutshena in Zambia,” LSZ executive secretary Edward Mapara revealed.

However, the reproach on Mnangagwa is somehow unfair as he has legal advisors at his disposal. The Prosecutor General is appointed at the discretion of the president and is meant to advise him on legal matters such as: being the Law Officer of the Executive Council and seeing that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with the law.

The president has ministers and public servants who possess a legal knowhow and have served in government for a while.

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