Can Hodzi succeed where others failed?

HARARE - Newly- appointed Prosecutor General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi, pictured,  has an unenviable task before him.
He has landed the top post when the rot in the country has reached alarming proportions with Zimbabwe being ranked the 160th  most corrupt nation out of 175 countries surveyed by Transparency International in 2018. 


As the new broom at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Hodzi ought to be on top of his game to win the war.
His duties will include investigating crimes together with police, and deciding whether or not to instigate legal proceedings and to appear in court. 
Once in court, prosecutors from his office must prove that the suspect has committed the crime.  This is no mean task.
Hodzi assumes a seat that his predecessors had to vacate in a huff.
Not so long ago, Ray Goba was suspended from his duties as PG in July last year following allegations that he had failed in his mandate.
He then tendered his resignation on August 8, 2018, after he was scheduled to appear before a tribunal to ascertain whether he was still fit to continue as the country’s top prosecutor.
Before Goba, it was Johannes Tomana who found the seat too hot to handle.
Tomana was appointed PG in 2008 during the Government of National Unity era. 
 He was dismissed in May 2017 after a tribunal found him unsuitable to hold office. 
Hodzi has promised to “hit the ground running” in tackling high-profile criminal and corruption cases. He is not new to the office though.
Following Goba’s suspension, Hodzi was appointed acting PG in July last year from the Attorney General’s Office where he was the second in command.
In January, he became the substantive PG following interviews in December 2018. 
While he came sixth in the public interviews, President Emmerson Mnangagwa still picked him for the job ahead of the other five interviewees.


For that reason, the Constitutional Court is currently seized with two applications seeking nullification of his appointment.
Harare lawyer, Tarisai Mkwacha has argued in court that Hodzi had not been appointed on merit after failing the interviews.
Mkwacha said the appointment is shrouded in controversy of the highest order, noting that according to results that were published from the public interviews Hodzi was at number six out of the 10 candidates who participated.
“Despite scoring low marks he was still appointed to the office of Prosecutor General much to the surprise of the general public. 
“This confirms earlier allegations by progressive citizens that the office of the Prosecutor General is captured by the executive evident from Hodzi’s predecessors the likes of Gula-Ndebele, Tomana, Goba etal.”
Mkwacha noted how due process was not followed in prosecution of cases that landed in court soon after Hodzi’s appointment. 
He said immediately after his appointment, Hodzi presided over mass trials for suspected accused who allegedly participated in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) shutdown last month.
“Trials were commenced in the absence of the accused person’s lawyers, and in some cases lawyers were frog marched into trials without State papers.
“The Prosecutor General blatantly disregarded basic rights given to an accused as provided for by our Constitution.” 
However, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) have defended the appointment saying the law empowers the president to choose a candidate of his choice,” he argued.
The JSC has, however, argued before the same court that Section 180 of the supreme law gives the president the discretion to appoint a candidate of his choice to the office of PG. 
“Where, in his discretion, the president considers that none of the persons on the list submitted to him by the JSC are suitable for appointment, Section 180 (5) of the Constitution allows the president to request the JSC to submit a further list of three qualified persons to him from which the president is obliged to appoint one of the nominees on the second list to the office of Prosecutor General,” JSC’s acting secretary Walter Chikwanha said.
A holder of a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe and a first class Master’s degree in International Public Law (University of Lund, Sweden), the legal fraternity is divided over whether Hodzi would be able to deliver on his mandate. Seasoned lawyer Alec Muchadehama said most court processes were being politicised, citing cases involving members of the ZCTU, an organisation he say has been harassed for as long as he can remember. 
“Even the corruption crusade that is being touted about clearly they are being done selectively while real criminals go scot -free,” said Muchadehama.
Concerns have been raised by stakeholders in the legal fraternity that such flawed administration of justice can result in infringements on the rule of law and hampers the achievement of justice.
Irked by these perceived injustices and the abuse of rule of law, Zimbabwean lawyers recently staged a demonstration.
Human rights lawyer Marufu Mandevere said it was too early to assess Hogwe’s competence since he had just assumed office but castigated the manner in which political violence cases had been handled by his office.
“We have seen a serious shift in the manner that prosecutions have been done with respect to the public violence cases. 
“The cases were fast tracked with shoddy investigations but still matters were allowed to go into court,” Mandevere said.
“…suddenly in the middle of those cases Hodzi was parachuted to the office of PG and one would certainly be forgiven to suggest that he vigorously campaigned with the manner he handled the public violence cases.”
Even the corruption crusade that is being touted about clearly arrests are being done selectively while real criminals go scot-free.



 

Comments (1)

How will he succeed when he doesn't have requisite competences for the job besides him alone cannot turn around the judiciary services the who;e system needs an overhaul a weaning from the rot that is zanupf.

Sinyo - 18 February 2019

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