Can Tomana be non-partisan prosecutor-general?

Residents of Harare have expressed a lack of confidence in Johannes Tomana as the first National Prosecution Authority prosecutor-general.

Israel Mabhande: Tomana’s new appointment brings no joy.
Israel Mabhande: Tomana’s new appointment brings no joy.

Tomana, the former attorney-general, was recently appointed to the post by President Robert Mugabe, as required by the new constitution.

His appointment was described by many as a Zanu (PF) strategy to protect criminals allied to the ruling party.

Harare businessman Israel Mabhande said Tomana’s new office would bring no joy, as he might be used to protect Zanu (PF) members from prosecution as he allegedly did while attorney-general.

“Tomana will simply rescind prosecutions against Zanu (PF) followers and use the same law to prosecute the MDC,” said Mabhande.

Tomana was accused of openly refusing to prosecute Zanu (PF) in clear criminal cases such as misappropriation of the Constituency Development Fund. Hundreds of cases reported by MDC against Zanu (PF) and other partisan arms of the state went unprosecuted.

Mabhande said Zanu (PF) could not afford to appoint an independent prosecutor-general, since he would open a can of worms and arrest Zanu (PF) officials and security chiefs accused of criminal conduct.

There were reports that Tomana stopped the CDF prosecutions when the long arm of the law caught up with top Zanu (PF) officials.

MDC-T expressed dissatisfaction at Tomana’s appointment and accused him of being vindictive towards MDC supporters.

“While attorney-general, Tomana was involved in selective application of the law and showed some functionary tendencies,” said MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora.

Tomana’s new rôle, according to the constitution, involves prosecuting criminal cases in a non-partisan manner. He will serve for six years, which is renewable for another term.

Respected human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama said Tomana’s appointment was a political one, which resulted from a controversial political process.

Political analyst and affiliate to Crisis Zimbabwe Vivid Gwede said the constitution stated that Tomana, as attorney-general, be appointed prosecutor-general. The nation would want to see if Tomana behaved in line with the spirit of the constitution.

“He will be brought to test when faced with cases of a political nature, where principles of justice and human rights are required,” Gwede said.

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