What does Zimbabwe’s Constitution say about presidential immunity?

With Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe being sacked from the ruling party Zanu-PF, but still clinging to power as the president of the country, opposition parties are calling for criminal action against him.

Opposition parties said Mugabe could face criminal charges after he vacates office, but emphasised that the decision rested with ordinary Zimbabweans.

“Mugabe committed a lot of atrocities during his long and repressive rule. The people of Zimbabwe cannot easily forget the Gukurahundi genocide of the early to mid-1980s, as well as the Murambatsvina campaign of May/June 2005,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“The MDC is not a vindictive political party, but all the same, we don’t subscribe to impunity and unaccountability. There has to be closure to all these very unfortunate incidents of our post-independence history. The victims also need closure so that they can get on with their lives in peace.

“It’s up to the people of Zimbabwe to decide what Mugabe and his garrulous wife should do in order to repair the monumental damage and suffering that they caused to the toiling masses of Zimbabwe. We don’t call for retribution, but we are certainly calling for truth and reconciliation as well as justice.”

Under Zimbabwe’s Constitution, the President is protected, but it appears the constitution allows for charges after removal from office.

But that could be a challenge.

A source told CNN earlier Monday that the military had given into demands from the President for full immunity for himself and his wife, but there is still no confirmation that Mugabe has accepted a deal.

Impeachment proceedings are set to begin on Tuesday after the deadline given to him by the military to resign, came and went on Monday.

Zimbabwe’s Constitution: Section 98 on presidential immunity

1.    While in office, the President is not liable to civil or criminal proceedings in any court for things done or omitted to be done in his or her personal capacity.

2.    Civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against a former President for things done and omitted to be done before he or she became President or while he or she was President.

3.    The running of prescription in relation to any debt or liability of the President arising before or during his or her term of office is suspended while he or she remains in office.

4.    In any proceedings brought against a former President for anything done or omitted to be done in his or her official capacity while he or she was President, it is a defence for him or her to prove that the thing was done or omitted in good faith.

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