Statement by the MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs

MDC condemns arrest of Attorney General

HARARE – The recent arrest of the Attorney General, Sobusa Gula Ndebele, on

allegations of Contravening Section 174 (1) of the Criminal Law

(Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 has once again shown the ZANU

(PF) regime’s lack of appreciation and understanding of the concepts of the

rule of law, separation of powers and independence of the Attorney General’s

office. The action shows a contempt and disdain for constitutional

principles and is symptomatic of a regime that has lost its way and

direction.

While we hold no brief for Mr. Gula Ndebele and we express no opinion on the

correctness or otherwise of the decision he is alleged to have made in

relation to Mr. Mushore, our concern as the Movement Democratic Change is

that the behavior of the Police undermines the remaining vestiges of the

public’s confidence in the justice delivery system. Over the years we have

witnessed the battering that the rule of law has received at the hands of

the ZANU (PF) regime and this latest incident simply reinforces the point

that we must return to constitutionalism and respect of our institutions.

While our constitution is defective and needs a complete overhaul, it does

give some independence to the judiciary and the Attorney General and in this

regard Section 76(7) of the constitution is clear and unambiguous in that it

gives unfettered powers to the Attorney General and it states that he or she

“shall not be subject to the direction and control of any person or

authority”. One would therefore have expected that in the exercise of his

duties the Attorney General is vested with discretionary powers in matters

relating to prosecutions.

In any civilized society, there are ways of dealing with issues and if it

was felt that the Attorney General had exceeded the bonds of the powers

vested in him, then the proper procedures would be to institute proceedings

for his removal instead of hauling him before the Police as a common

criminal.

Unfortunately, Zimbabwe is neither a civilized nor a democratic country and

it would be too much to expect the ZANU (PF) regime to pay any regard to

legal nicecities and Zimbabwean citizens have over the years been victims of

this high handed approach only for the cases to collapse due to lack of

evidence.

It is not only members of the opposition and civil society who have been

arrested on trumped up charges and the arrest of the Attorney General comes

in the wake of the acquittal of Levison Chikafu, the Manicaland Area Public

Prosecutor. Mr. Chikafu was not even placed on his defence and he was

cleared of all five charges he was facing after being discharged at the

close of the state case. He made allegations that his prosecution was

politically motivated because he had the courage to prosecute some high

profile individuals.

The ZANU (PF) regime has shown in the past that it is not comfortable with

people who execute their duties in a professional way and it has a long

history of ignoring legal advise given to it. It was not comfortable with

the previous Attorney General and one hopes that we are not witnessing a

situation where this is persecution and harassment related to political

differences. We have noted that the Attorney General’s Office Bill which

went through its first reading and received a non adverse report from the

Parliamentary Legal Committee has not seen the light of day and is gathering

some dust in some office somewhere and one wonders whether there is a link

between the latest incident and the Bill.

As the Movement for Democratic Change, we believe that Zimbabwe can only

move forward when we have a government which derives its mandate from the

people through elections which are held freely and fairly under a democratic

people driven constitution. It is only such a government which can observe

democratic norms and standards and respect its institutions, the rule of law

and democracy. Expecting ZANU (PF) to do so is to live in world cuckooland

and expect that a leopard can change its spots. – Innocent Gonese (MP),

Secretary for Justice Legal And Parliamentary Affairs

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