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Wrangle delays AG's Office Bill
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
November 06, 2006

A TUG-OF-WAR war between the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa, and the Attorney General, Cde Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, has delayed the passing of the Attorney-General’s Office Bill.

Speaking at a no-holds-barred meeting with Justice Department staff at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Courts, Cde Chinamasa said enactment of the AG’s Office Bill was being held up by a wrangle between himself and Cde Gula-Ndebele over who should control the AG’s Office.

"I am sure that most of you are aware of the fact that the delay in the progression of the AG’s Office Bill is over a tug-of-war between myself and Cde Gula-Ndebele. The problem centres on who should control the department. This is particularly a policy issue and we hope we will soon find a solution to it," said Cde Chinamasa.

He said the sticking point was where officers in the AG’s Office should report.

The matter concerning the separation of AG’s Office staffers from the rest of the ministry had been resolved, but "the bone of contention is who should have control over that department".

The AG’s Bill went through its second reading in Parliament last year, but has been stalled because of the wrangle between Cdes Chinamasa and Gula-Ndebele.

The AG’s Office Bill seeks to establish a board to constitute the AG’s Office as an entity outside the Public Service and provide for the administration of the department and conditions of service for staff. The minister told the meeting that the Judicial Services Bill has gone through all parliamentary stages and was now awaiting Presidential assent to become law.

The AG’s Office Bill was meant to complement that law. Cde Chinamasa said his ministry was looking forward to a situation whereby all workers enjoyed benefits and good working conditions, resources permitting.

He said to this end, interpreters and clerks of court would be upgraded.

The ministry, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Judicial College, he said, was working towards establishing a distance learning programme for interpreters.

"One has to go through a six-month course and once they qualify through that programme, then they can advance to diploma level.

"It is our hope that once the programme gets off the ground we will start producing interpreters of high calibre," said the minister.

Cde Chinamasa said he hoped that staff at the Zimbabwe Judicial College had started producing modules for the programme, which will be decentralised to provinces.

"I am reliably informed that names of those eligible for the programme have already been submitted and, resources permitting, this programme should roll into gear next January," said Cde Chinamasa to applause mainly from court interpreters.

His ministry was also in the process of mobilising resources to establish a Court Inspectorate whose duties would be to visit each province to assess the work being done by officers under the ministry.

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