BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
LAW experts have commended the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for withdrawing services of security officers serving as prosecutors following a Constitutional Court (ConCourt) order.
“The aforementioned circular directed the disengagement of the services of serving members in the security sector from the secondment to the authority. Provincial members are requested to formally inform the affected members,” read a statement from the Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi’s office dated February 11.
The withdrawal was in compliance with the ConCourt order of 2019 following an application by the Zimbabwe Law Officers Association (ZLOA), which sought to stop NPA from engaging police and military personnel as public prosecutors.
In the ConCourt application filed in 2019, law officers had argued that engaging security officers in the NPA resulted in interference with the protection granted to accused persons and infringed on their rights as enshrined in section 69 of the Constitution.
Lawyer and MDC Alliance vice-chairperson Job Sikhala said compliance with judgments of the courts is what everyone in the legal profession and beyond should do to enhance democracy.
“Promotion of human rights is defined by practical efforts of institutions such as the Judiciary,” Sikhala said.
“The judgment of the court was informing that there must be separation of powers. Soldiers and police officers are peace officers. They are involved in the arrests and they cannot not be the complainants and sit at the jury at the same time.”
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika said the practice of having security officers seconded to a professional justice delivery body should never have been done as it compromised the rule of law.
“It is unfortunate it took a court order to reverse this, but the compliance is welcome,” he said.
“Trained, qualified and independent personnel should do the job as the law of the land demands.”
State security officers have been reportedly used by the State to thwart dissent in the guise of maintaining order, resulting in gross human violations.
Human rights activists have been demanding investigation and prosecution of all security officers who violated human rights in the past two years.
Human rights activist, Dewa Mavhinga said security officers were placed in the NPA to control the body, which compromised its independence in ensuring that the criminal soldiers and police were brought to book.