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Human Rights Lawyers Seeking High Court Order to Block Firing of Prosecutor General Goba

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

High Court Judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba is on Friday expected to preside over the hearing of an urgent chamber application filed by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) seeking an order to interdict President Robert Mugabe and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) from instituting any processes for the appointment of a Prosecutor General (PG) to replace Advocate Ray Goba.

President Mugabe last Friday reversed the appointment of Advocate Goba through an Extraordinary Government Gazette, General Notice 642 of 2017, issued and signed by Misheck Sibanda, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet. The notice repealed the General Notice 493 of 2017 issued through an Extraordinary Government Gazette.

But in an urgent chamber application filed on Wednesday, ZLHR wants the High Court to interdict President Mugabe and the JSC from removing or in any other way interfere with Advocate Goba’s constitutional appointment without following proper procedures as provided for in Section (259)(7) of the Constitution.

ZLHR said in a statement, the JSC was scheduled to meet on November 2nd, 2017, to reconsider the process for the appointment of the new PG, “notwithstanding the fact that Advocate Goba has not been validly removed from office.”

In a founding affidavit filed together with the urgent chamber application and signed by ZLHR Executive Director Roselyn Hanzi, the human rights organisation argued that it has a direct and substantial interest in the obedience and observance of the provisions of the Constitution by all individuals and organs bound by it and that the Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and every conduct inconsistent with it is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.

The ZLHR contended that the PG can only be removed from office by President Mugabe upon the advice of a tribunal set up in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution and that the Constitution does not provide another different route that can be followed to remove the PG from office.

Hanzi argued that the purported reversal of Advocate Goba’s appointment through a government gazette is unlawful, ultra vires provisions of the Constitution in addition to being in breach of provisions of the Administrative Justice Act (Chapter 10:28).

ZLHR wants the High Court to issue an order declaring that the government gazette extraordinary notice number 642 of 2017 published on Friday October 27th, 2017, purporting to repeal government gazette number 493 of 2017 invalid and of no legal force and effect.

“The human rights organisation is also seeking an order declaring that the government gazette extraordinary notice number 642 of 2017 does not have any legal effect on the appointment of Advocate Goba as the PG of Zimbabwe duly appointed through government gazette number 493 of 2017 published on 13 September 2017.

“ZLHR also wants the High Court to direct President Mugabe to administer the prescribed oath of office on Advocate Goba failing which the oath of office he took on 07 July 2016 as Acting PG, be confirmed as being sufficient for his appointment to the substantive position of PG.”

ZLHR wants Advocate Goba to remain in office until the final determination of the matter.

The government is currently advertising the PG’s post in state-controlled media. There was no immediate reaction from the Ministry of Justice.