Attorney-General (AG) Johannes Tomana has threatened to withdraw practicing certificates for executive members of the Zimbabwe Law Officers’ Association (Ziloa) for allegedly inciting public prosecutors to go on strike early this month.
The development has set the stage for a bruising legal battle between the AG and Ziloa.
In a confidential letter dated October 17, leaked to NewsDay, Tomana accused the five-member Ziloa executive of behaving in a way unbefitting of their positions.
Part of Tomana’s letter read: “Given the exposition of facts surrounding your unlawful actions, I am of the firm belief that the above rendition of facts justifies me demanding an explanation in writing showing cause why I must continue reposing my confidence in you as my representative practicing under my certificate.”
The Ziloa executive comprises Leopold Mudisi (president), Patrobs Dube, Musekiwa Mbanje, Dereck Charamba and Mehluli Tshuma.
Tomana asked the five, whom he charged individually, to respond within seven days justifying why they should remain in the service of the AG’s Office.
“I hereby write to you requesting to justify your conduct. I am satisfied that the conduct I refer to below admits of the conclusion that you have on dates that appear in each of the publications attached to this letter failed to conduct yourself with decorum and integrity expected of a public prosecutor.
“It is apparent that in common purpose with each other (the five of you) actively participated in the incitement of law officers to embark on an industrial action purportedly based on salary discrepancies between law officers and magistrates,” Tomana charged.
The letter was copied to Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda, the Public Service Commission (PSC), Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs David Mangota, deputy attorney-generals (DAGs) and the director of human resources in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.
On October 4, Ziloa members embarked on a countrywide week-long industrial action demanding that they be put on similar salary scales with magistrates.
The strike, which virtually brought the justice delivery system to a halt, was only called off after the PSC undertook to review the matter.
Although Tomana could not be reached for comment yesterday as he was reportedly attending Cabinet, the Ziloa executive said they viewed his letter as tailored to cow them into submission.
“The behaviour by the AG and DAG (Criminal) is tantamount to victimisation and unnecessary threats after being infuriated by the job action. Our clients will not respond in their personal capacities, but as Ziloa, a legally and lawfully constituted association.
“Furthermore, actions by the AG are unacceptable as he is bereft of locus standi (legal standing) in terms of the law to write to our clients questioning suitability of any member to continue prosecuting under the AG’s certificate,” said a Ziloa lawyer yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Ziloa executive has said its members are ready to go back on strike if the “victimisation continues” and if by end of month their salaries are not increased.