Public prosecutors in the Attorney-General’s Office reportedly defied a directive by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa by attending a two-day annual general meeting (AGM) of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) in Victoria Falls between July 2 and 3.
On the eve of the lawyers’ indaba, Chinamasa wrote to all members under his ministry to avoid any direct or indirect contact with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by countries perceived to be pursuing regime change in Zimbabwe by influencing the judiciary. Part of the letter, copied to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), reads: “I am sure you are aware that ZLHR and ZimRights are funded by governments which imposed sanctions against this country and have a cornerstone of their foreign policy towards Zimbabwe, an agenda to effect illegal regime change.
“Any association or direct contact between members of the judiciary and these foreign-funded NGOs is unacceptable to my ministry and government as a whole for the obvious reason that all their actions and activities are intended to undermine the independence of the judiciary.”
But the law officers, including the Deputy Attorney-General Prince Machaya, who delivered a keynote address at the ZLHR AGM, seemed unmoved by Chinamasa’s directive.
Prosecutors who spoke to NewsDay yesterday accused Chinamasa of behaving like a “spoilt child who is always crying for goodies without working for them”.
“We defied that letter and went on to attend the AGM. Chinamasa just wants to complain, but what has he done for us? He has failed to improve our conditions of service, but just wants to issue directives,” said a prosecutor who refused to be named.
Zimbabwe Law Officers Association president Leopold Mudisi told NewsDay yesterday that as an independent body, they went to Victoria Falls to discuss, among other things, labour issues affecting their members.
“We are an independent body, which held its AGM with the help of ZLHR and we went there to discuss labour issues affecting our members, which have nothing to do with regime change,” said Mudisi.
However, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana said: “Why do you want a comment from me?
“I am not the minister and definitely not the Deputy Attorney-General who attended the meeting. I was not in Victoria Falls.”
ZLHR spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda referred all questions to Chinamasa.