Government is in the process of setting up legal frameworks that allow for the accommodation of the “Office of the Leader of the Opposition”, as part of building institutions of governance in the Second Republic, Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications), Mr George Charamba, has said.
This followed the announcement by President Mnangagwa during an interview with Bloomberg TV in New York this week that his administration would soon create a formal “Office of the Leader of the Opposition” in line with Commonwealth practices, as Zimbabwe moved towards rejoining the organisation.
Mr Charamba clarified that the creation of that office was not in any way meant to accommodate MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa after he lost the July 30 polls, but the facility would accommodate any opposition leader from an electoral process.
As such, he said, it did not account to anything if Mr Chamisa refused to take up the office as the current leader of the opposition, but the facility would remain in the statutes as part of institutional and governance structure.
Mr Charamba made the remarks in an interview with Capitalk FM on Wednesday from New York where he is accompanying President Mnangagwa, who is attending the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“So, really, we are at the level of institution building and rules writing,” he said.
“One, we have to make sure that the laws accommodate office of the leader of the opposition. So, there has to be some legal adjustments.
“Two, we have to make sure that we have to create the office which means administratively and institutionally we have to create an office which will then be occupied by the leader of the opposition and I am not talking of an individual, I am talking of the institution of the opposition.
“Three, we have to define the roles, the obligations, the rules attended on the office of that particular oath. When we are done with that, only then do we say ah who happens to be the leader of the opposition as a result of the elections that ended on the 30th of July and then we say well what is his disposition towards this new arrangement which we have introduced in the country.
“He may like this proposal, but it doesn’t really matter. Even if they like or don’t like it, we will still have that as a facility which is on our statutes, as a facility which is there institutionally and of course as a facility which is there by way of rules of governance in the country.”
Commenting on the discourse that is gathering traction in the private media that the facility was being created to accommodate Mr Chamisa, Mr Charamba said: “This facility is meant to accommodate any opposition leader who emerges as a result of a certain electoral outcome.
“In other words, we are talking about a template of bringing the opposition and not necessarily an individual and I noticed back home the debate has boiled down to prospects for accommodation of an individual. That’s not it.”
Mr Charamba said after the legal processes providing for the creation of the Office of the Leader of Opposition were completed, President Mnangagwa would then engage the current leader of opposition.
“Let me say, the President of Zimbabwe is a State and nation builder, once the process is done, he will approach the leader of the opposition in consistent with that particular law,” said Mr Charamba.
“It is up to the leader of the opposition to accept filling that institutional arrangement or to turn it down.
“If he turns it down, that doesn’t stop Zimbabwe from moving forward,” he said.
“The biggest problem we are having is a youthful leader who doesn’t realise that by fact as well as the rule, in other words, de facto and de jure, the election season is behind us.
“There is an election outcome in Zimbabwe, factually on the ground and by way of the pronouncement by the Constitutional Court which means by way of the law. That situation will not change whether or not the situation is the liking or the otherwise of the opposition leader.
“So, if and when he comes to his senses and realises that this is a done deal that he can’t change the fact, he can’t change the rule then he will realise the futility of keeping away from facilities that are being made available by Government in the interest of national amity, national stability and as an expression of national goodwill.
“So really, we are not preoccupied by the disposition of the opposition leader as a person. We are interested in building institutions for the Second Republic.”