Legal and Parliamentary Affiars

Calls for removal of Prosecutor-General post gather momentum

Kumbirai Hodzi
Legal Correspondent
Zimbabwe is working towards abolishing the post of the Prosecutor General (PG), a  strategic planning review workshop has heard.
Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi said this in his keynote address when he officially opened his Ministry’s 2020 Strategic Planning Review Workshop at Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre (KHCC) Thursday last week.
“Work under the Constitutional alignment process is ongoing and I’m proud to say that the Ministry has five Bills that are currently undergoing parliamentary processes and another seven Bills that are at different stages before submission to Parliament.
 “Further to this, the Ministry is currently seized with the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which  will among other things, facilitate the smooth implementation of Devolution, increase the tenure of office of judges, amend the  provision pertaining to the removal of the Prosecutor General, remove the delimitation exercise from being carried out soon after a census, as well as, extending the proportional representation by a further ten years.
The post of the PG has always come with a mixed script since the recent call for a suitable person to fill the high profile position was announced.
“The Judicial Service Commission (PG) announces that a vacancy for the post of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Zimbabwe has arisen. It is necessary  to appoint a Prosecutor General for the Republic of Zimbabwe, ” the announcement read in September 2018.
It called for persons to fill the vacancy: “In terms of section 259 (3) as read with section 180 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, members of the public are hereby invited to nominate suitable candidates for the above position,” read a Government notice calling for the nomination of persons to fill the vacancy then.
It is the intended abolishment of the post of the PG, barely five years down the line, which has stimulated debate not only in the legal circles but, generally.
The post of the PG has curried controversy amid the execution of duty of the office bearer. Advocate Johannes Tomana was removed from office by the late President Robert Mugabe on recommendations by a Tribunal set up to investigate that office at the time. He was facing misconduct and incompetence allegations.
When Tomana vacated office,  Advocate Ray Hamilton Goba who was appointed in December, 2017, resigning in 2018 after a raft of allegations levelled against him reared. He was facing allegations of failing to prosecute high profile cases, abuse of office, using abusive language and traveling out of the country without Cabinet’s approval.
After Adv. Goba’s resignation, incumbent PG Kumbirai Hodzi assumed office in an acting capacity from mid 2018. He was appointed on a substantive basis from January 23, 2019, when he took Oath of Office at State House, Harare, before the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Hodzi was not the best candidate from the public interviews conducted to choose the PG. He was on position six. The incumbent was selected after a subsequent list of three candidates found its way to the President from the JSC.
“The President may decline to appoint any candidate from the initial list as the appointment is subject to Section 180(3) of the Constitution (of Zimbabwe). This Section gives the President an unfettered discretion to decide upon the initial list so submitted . He is at liberty to reject the initial list of persons and require the JSC to submit a further list of three persons. Grounds upon which the President may decline range from cases such as misappropriation of public or trust funds, dishonesty, any conduct of a criminal nature or any other grounds which may be deemed fit and proper hence, such a person is considered to have failed security vetting,” explained Justice Ministry Perm. Sec. Virginia Mabhiza in an interview with the Financial Gazette on February 1, last year.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende