WASHINGTON DC —
Opposition parties and members of the legal fraternity in Zimbabwe are urging prosecutor general Johannes Tomana to resign after he was slapped with a 30-day jail time for refusing to prosecute two cases, one of which involves the alleged rape of a minor by a top ruling Zanu PF politician.
Tomana repeatedly defied calls to prosecute the cases despite protests. He also ignored court orders seeking private prosecutions of Zanu PF lawmaker Munyaradzi Kereke who was accused of raping a then 11-year-old girl.
Tomana was also charged for failing to allow the private prosecution of businesswoman Jane Mutasa, for allegedly stealing from the country’s third cellular network, Telecel Zimbabwe.
But, in an uprecedented ruling, the full Constitutional Court ordered Tomana to be jailed for defying the law he is supposed to uphold. The court gave him 10 days to appeal.
Tomana, who’s in Russia on government business, is understood to be a key ally of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zanu PF’s bitter succession matrix.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe on Thursday said it was exploring ways through which to force Tomana to resign.
For perspective, VOA Studio 7 turned to political analyst, Nhlanhla Dube and Obert Gutu, opposition MDC-T spokesman.
Gutu said the Constitutional Court ruling against Tomana vindicates his party that has previously complained about Tomana’s alleged lack of professionalism.
"When you read the judgement that was read by the constitutional court yesterday, particulalry the very scathing remarks that were made by the chief justice of the country you feel extremely discontented on behalf of Tomana," he said.
Dube concurred with Gutu, adding: "I want to say that, it is symptomatic of the problem that we have got in the country ... the problem being that there has been no separation of the institution of state."
Delivering the sentence on behalf of the full bench, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said they were worried about Tomana’s behavior, who does not have a “blank cheque” to choose the people to prosecute or not to prosecute.
Chidyausiku is quoted by the privately-owned NewsDay newspaper as saying, “His responsibility is to prosecute whoever disobeys the court orders, but he himself turns out to disobey the court orders, that in itself troubles this court. What is troubling the court is an officer of the court who deliberately, not once, but twice, disobeys the court orders.
“It is not taken lightly by this court . . . if a three-year-old girl is raped and you refuse to prosecute, is it not taking the law into one’s hands?”