19 September 2018

Zimbabwe: Acting PG Clears Air On Anti-Graft Unit

Acting Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi on Monday said the special anti-corruption unit operates under his direction and control and does not take orders from anyone, the President included.

Although the idea of setting up the unit was initiated by the President, the officers were appointed by the PG in terms of the law.

They were integrated into the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) system and are bound by the office's prosecutorial ethics.

Mr Hodzi clarified the special unit's mandate and terms of reference amid attempts by some lawyers to delay the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases through interlocutory challenges on the legality of the prosecutors.

In an interview, Mr Hodzi said President Mnangagwa only pledged his political will to fight corruption and to ensure effective prosecution of corruption cases, but did not appoint the officers to be prosecutors.

"The special anti-corruption unit was established in terms of the NPA Act which gives me the authority to appoint prosecutors or personnel to the NPA after consultation with the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. I am the one who gives the special unit its work and I direct the team on how to do it.

"I exercised my mandate under the NPA Act, to appoint all the officers of the unit as prosecutors. I, as the Acting PG, allocate work to the team and they do not report to any other authorities, including the President, said Mr Hodzi.

"For their day-to-day activities, they are integrated as NPA officers and they report to the PG daily, who directs them as to the nature of their work," said Mr Hodzi.

Mr Hodzi said false impressions had been created that the unit was controlled and directed by President Mnangagwa.

"An erroneous impression has been made that the prosecutors in question are directed and controlled from the President's Office.

"That is incorrect. At no stage did the unit receive directions from any other quarters other than the PG.

"The same rules that apply to every prosecutor and the PG himself, also apply to members of the special unit," he said.

Mr Hodzi said he was the one who crafted the special unit's terms of reference and drafted a concept paper for the operations of the unit.

He said the unit was above board and that any attempts to delay the prosecution of corruption cases through challenges on the legality of the unit were tantamount to an abuse of the court process.

"However, there is a clique of lawyers who, for all apparent reasons, are clearly using the challenge to the legality of the unit as a diversion tactic to the prosecution of suspects.

"This has resulted in unnecessary delays in some of the prosecutions we are handling," he said.

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