Zimbabwe: Cabinet Frees Prosecutor-General From Judicial Service Commission

13 November 2019

The Prosecutor-General should not be appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as doing so constitutes an anomaly whose effect is to undermine his or her independence, a Cabinet minister has said.

The JSC handles judicial appointments.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said this yesterday while fielding questions from journalists about proposed improvements to the National Prosecution Authority during the 40th Cabinet meeting decision matrix briefing held in Harare.

He said the current law where the JSC has a role in the appointment of the PG was irregular, and there was need to review the law through amending the Constitution and amending the National Prosecution Authority Act.

Cabinet yesterday approved the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill aimed at improving the NPA's operations and governance structure.

"According to the current law, the Prosecutor-General was appointed through the Judicial Service Commission, which was actually a huge anomaly," said Minister Ziyambi.

"The Prosecutor-General is not part of the JSC and in fact, he appears before the Judiciary, and these were the ones that were motivating the appointment and disappointment of the PG.

"That is what we are cleaning up in terms of the Constitutional Amendment, and not through the NPA Bill.

With respect to the NPA Bill, we had several anomalies like the appointment of the secretary to the board, who was the accounting officer, yet he was reporting to the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.

"Yet this is an independent commission -- that was an anomaly.

"We are also cleaning it up so that we have a Deputy Prosecutor-General as opposed to having Director of National Prosecutions.

"This is to clean it up to ensure that the NPA operates efficiently as opposed to the current structure."

In terms of the proposed law, said Minister Ziyambi, the President will appoint the NPA chairperson from a list submitted to him from various ministries and Government departments.

"If you go to Section 259 of the Constitution, it speaks about the need to have an Act of Parliament that must provide for a board to employ persons to assist the PG," he said.

"The key word here is to employ persons. The PG is a specialised person with a job to prosecute.

"In terms of good governance, you would rather have the PG concentrate on the key function that he was hired to do, that is prosecution. He should exercise his mind along those lines and the body would then assist.

"It is good governance to separate the chair of the body and the PG so that he is freed and has time to do prosecution work."

Earlier on, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had considered and approved the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill, whose primary objective was to improve operations of the NPA, and revamping its governance structures.

"The amendments will thus pave way for the creation of the National Prosecuting Authority Board headed by a chairperson appointed by His Excellency the President," she said.

"The deputy chairperson shall, thus, be free to devote more time to the prosecutorial duties relating to his office.

"The chairperson and the deputy chairperson shall be of different genders.

"A secretary will be appointed to serve on the board.

"The other members of the board shall be a commissioner of the Civil Service Commission appointed by the chairperson of the Civil Service Commission; and five members appointed by the President after consultation with the Minister responsible for Justice.

"To ensure consistency in the country's laws, Section 7 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act shall be amended in accordance with the Amendments to the National Prosecuting Authority Act.

Once enacted into law, the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill, 2019 will make the Authority more effective and efficient in carrying out its Constitutional mandate as part of the reforms being undertaken by the Second Republic."

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