Sunday, 19 June 2016

SOLDIERS PARALYSE NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY

THE deployment of soldiers at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has seen staff morale hitting rock bottom amid claims that the militarisation of the agency was scaring away donors.

Sources said the NPA was now compromised and no longer operated independently as stipulated by the Constitution because of the presence of the military now in charge of the critical departments such as finance. 

Army officers at the NPA include Colonel Solomon Siziba, who is the NPA secretary, Major Msipa (administration finance), Major Manyeruke (secretary human resources) and Captain Chipadza, the human resources manager.

NPA officials said the presence of the military was scaring potential donors who were now hesitant to commit their funds into an agency controlled by the military.

“We are now an extension of the military. Strategic positions and the finance department are being controlled by the army personnel who do not even appreciate how prosecutors operate,” said the source.

“The NPA is not being donor-funded like our counterpart in the Judiciary Service Commission because donors do not want their funds to be controlled by the army which is not an independent entity.”

The source added: “You can imagine an office such as the Prosecutor General’s operating without a photocopying machine. how does one expect law officers to carry out their duties efficiently and effectively without such an important machine.

“Photocopying of court and important documents is done across the streets at some shops where we risk having our private information getting copied.”

Another law officer said: “We are operating without direct telephone lines, but given the nature of our jobs we need to communicate with police stations, lawyers and witnesses but we are required to go through the switchboard, which most of the times is jammed with requests, while all the military officers have direct lines, official cell-phones, well-furnished offices and are sitting pretty at the expense of prosecutors.”

The sources said the law officers were operating from dilapidated offices with broken furniture and even toilet paper was not provided.

NPA spokesperson Allen Chifokoyo said he could not comment on the deployment of soldiers as the issue was challenged and pending at the Constitutional Court.
 

Responding to other questions sent to him, Chifokoyo said: “The NPA has not been allocated enough resources by Treasury to acquire office equipment since its inception.

“The NPA is allowed by the National Prosecuting Authority Act, Chapter 7:20 to receive donor funds and we are currently in the process of identifying potential donors,” he added.

“We have previously worked with International Commission of Jurists in partnership with the European Union.

“They sponsored some workshops for our officers last year. For a detailed look of our operations, can you wait for our annual report which will be tabled before Parliament before the end of the week?”

However, prominent human rights lawyer, Aleck Muchadehama said the presence of the military at the PG’s office was part of Zanu PF’s strategy to control strategic positions even in parastatals. “The NPA is mandated to prosecute for the public, who are civilians,” he said.

“NPA must be seen to be independent and the moment you put military men in civilian clothes, it changes the whole idea of being independent.”

“Some time ago, the Attorney General’s office used to operate like an extension of Zanu PF and this is exactly what has been retained. This must be looked at in different context. Zanu PF wants to control who gets prosecuted since we are going towards 2018 elections.”

MDC-T spokesperson and former Justice deputy minister, Obert Gutu said the presence of the military in the NPA had a sinister motive.

“Ordinarily, members of the army belong to army barracks and certainly not in the PG’s office. It boggles the mind why soldiers are working in the PG’s office when there is definitely no shortage of qualified civilian manpower to man the PG’s office,” Gutu said.

Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana was suspended early this year after he was arrested for refusing to prosecute soldiers who were linked to an alleged plot to bomb President Robert Mugabe’s dairy outfit.

0 comments:

Post a Comment