Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Inclusive government - Index of articles
fires salvo at lawyers, defends Tomana, and cautions against abuse
of section 121 of the CPEA
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
March 15, 2010
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa
on Monday 15 March 2010 claimed that corruption was very rampant
among legal practitioners both in public and private practice and
blamed "so-called leading criminal lawyers" for conveying
bribe money to magistrates and prosecutors.
was appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice,
Legal Affairs, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, bemoaned
the lack of cooperation between his ministry and the Law Society
of Zimbabwe, which he accused of "turning a blind eye"
on inappropriate conduct he alleged was exhibited by members of
the lawyers' regulatory body.
Although he condemned the arrest of lawyers simply
for representing their clients, he warned lawyers not to "use
criminal means to defend or protect their clients" as they
would be "liable to arrest and prosecution".
The Justice Minister said he regretted the arrest
of senior media and human rights lawyer Mordecai Mahlangu for simply
writing a letter to Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana on behalf
of his client.
cautioned prosecutors against recklessly invoking Section 121 of
Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) to reverse the granting of
bail by the courts to accused persons.
and law officers from the AG's office have, on numerous occasions,
abused this controversial provision of the CPEA. The practice of
invoking Section 121 has had the effect of keeping individuals in
custody for a further seven days in order to allow the State time
to appeal the granting of bail. In almost all cases the appeals
have either never filed, or were dismissed by the superior courts.
and highlighting these cases and statistics, Zimbabwe Lawyers For
Human Rights has in recent months argued that the provision continues
to be used selectively and unlawfully by the AG's office against
human rights defenders and legitimate political activists in order
to persecute these individuals, even where courts have found no
evidence that they would pose a threat to the interests of justice,
society or the State, if they were to be released on bail.
that Section 121 should not be used willy-nilly by the AG's
Office. He blamed the unwarranted invocation of the provision on
lack of training on the part of prosecutors and law officers from
the AG's office.
Although he said there is nothing wrong with the law, the Minister
said invocation of Section 121 should be reserved to senior lawyers
and not be delegated to prosecutors prosecuting in outlying areas
such as Buhera.
He urged concerned people to report incidences of the abuse of Section
121 to him.
Minister defended the appointment of military personnel to high-ranking
positions in the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) ahead of career prison
personnel. He said officers from the army were better skilled than
those from the ZPS.
that the government is considering holding court sessions at the
country's remand prisons because the ZPS has in recent years
failed to transport prisoners to court.
Minister said he has now finalised the Memorandum of Principles
of the AG Bill which he will table before Cabinet while the Judicial
Services Act will soon be operationalised after some delays.
his opinion and concerns surrounding the competence and controversial
appointment of Johannes Tomana, Chinamasa defended and backed the
AG's appointment. "With respect to his appointment and
skills I give him 100%," Chinamasa said.
The appointment of Tomana and that of Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono is currently being contested by
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The MDC wants
President Robert Mugabe, among other things, to relieve Tomana and
Gono of their duties because their appointments were unprocedural.
The MDC says the unilateral appointments of Tomana and Gono by President
Robert Mugabe are threatening the implementation of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) that created the Zimbabwe's
fragile power-sharing government.
Chinamasa regretted that lawyers were deserting
the legal profession and taking up jobs in the corporate and NGO
the quality of law graduates being churned out of the country's
universities as dismal as some of the graduates were failing to
draft letters of demand. He said that authorities at the University
of Zimbabwe (UZ) had made the law faculty a no-go area for his
"What is happening there is politics throughout. The UZ can
do better than teaching politics. We expect students to be taught
proper law subjects at the faculty of law," said Chinamasa.
He said it is embarrassing that Zimbabwean Judges
were not being well remunerated and blamed the country's economic
calamity for the poor salaries that they are currently earning.
He defended the Judges' acquisition of commercial
farms under the land reform programme, saying that it was a "national
programme which must not be shut off to a certain group of people".
Visit the ZLHR
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.