ATTORNEY-GENERAL (AG) Johannes Tomana says he had no orders to arrest MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lawyers over allegations of contempt of court.
Report by Blessed Mhlanga
Tomana told NewsDay yesterday that his office had merely been asked to look into allegations that papers filed by Tsvangirai and his lawyers could have been contemptuous of the entire judiciary system and not necessarily to arrest and prosecute.
“The Constitution is clear that the office of the AG is independent and cannot be ordered to arrest people. This is why the judge did not issue such an order,” said Tomana.
The AG said if he got that request he would look at it in a professional manner and if there could be suspicion of an offence, his office would cause investigations into the matter.
“If I look at the allegations and think that there was indeed an offence committed, I will not prosecute, but will open investigations; and if there is evidence which sustains the allegations that indeed a crime was committed, then we will open a docket and prosecute based on that evidence,” said Tomana.
Electoral Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bunhu in delivering his judgment on an electoral petition by Tsvangirai demanding material used in the July 31 elections on Tuesday, asked the “Attorney-General or the prosecuting authority to take appropriate action according to the law” against the lawyers for filing court documents containing disparaging remarks about the judiciary.
The judgment immediately triggered fears that the request could have been an effective order to have Tsvangirai’s lawyers arrested for contempt of court, an interpretation that Tomana said was wrong.
The AG refused to discuss whether he was going to open investigations into the matter, saying being forced to discuss the matter would remove impartiality on the part of his office.
Part of Justice Bhunu’s judgment reads: “Time has come to rein in errant legal practitioners bent on bringing the court’s integrity into disrepute. That type of conduct cannot be tolerated by these courts.”