At least 600 candidates recently applied to join the country’s pool of prosecutors after Government decided to recruit additional skilled staffers to capacitate the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA), Prosecutor-General Advocate Ray Goba has said.
The NPA, which currently has a deficit of 653 prosecutors, will however recruit 93 prosecutors from the list.
This will leave a shortfall of 560 prosecutors that are needed to cover all the 52 prosecuting districts in the country.
Overall, the NPA requires 840 prosecutors to be adequately staffed.
Treasury has already released funds for the recruitments, which are limited to degreed candidates in line with Section 9 of the NPA Act.
The NPA currently works with a number of officers seconded from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS), as well as others from the military who are not qualified prosecutors.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Adv Goba said all organs of the justice delivery system are culpable for the slow pace of prosecutions.
He also said he was disappointed that Treasury failed to release enough funds to recruit more prosecutors.
“I am very disappointed because we asked Treasury to give us an establishment of 840 and we only got an establishment of 317. The total professional establishment of NPA is 840, people who are legally qualified with law degrees,” said Adv Goba.
“At that stage, we only had 187 who were in service and we wanted the number beefed to cover our 52 prosecuting districts countrywide, including head office and Rotten Row.
“Treasury gave us a total establishment of 317, including myself, chief law officers and others, which is still not enough. We have since invited applications to fill those new positions, they are at the entry level. You start off at the lowest level and you end up as the Prosecutor-General.
“We are now recruiting 93 prosecutors,” he said.
But the delay in the recruitment process is being caused by the inherent due care that has to be invested in identifying the best candidates.
“There are processes being undertaken to select candidates. We have 600 qualified applicants for the 93 posts and the selection process is not easy. Most of the applicants have Masters degrees.”
“Also take note that we have to go through each and every applicant’s documents. We are doing the process in a proper and transparent manner,” said Adv Goba.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi recently raised concern over delays in prosecuting corruption cases.
“We are concerned over delays in prosecution.
‘‘The problem we are having is that we have situations where investigations have been concluded but the prosecution is taking too long to be effected,” said the minister.
Some of the prosecuting districts around the country are in dire need for prosecutors.
It is believed that Mwenezi district currently does not have a qualified prosecutor.
However, Minister Ziyambi is confident this will be addressed soon.
In order to speed up prosecution, particularly of corruption cases, President Mnangagwa recently established a Special Anti-Corruption Unit under the auspices of the Office of the President and Cabinet.
It will work hand-in-glove with organs such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) and NPA to fight corruption.
“The President has indicated that let’s deal with corruption and what has been happening is that ZRP has been investigating and forwarding dockets to the NPA, equally ZACC has been doing the same, but the Prosecutor-General has been saying he does not have the capacity to peruse all of them.
“The reason why the President set up the Special Anti-Corruption Unit at our recommendation is to speed up finalisation of corruption cases.”
“The President decided to have people who look at the dockets to ensure that they are complete and prosecuted in time,” he said.
In the event that the NPA has no capacity to prosecute, he added, the PG is empowered by Section 27 of the NPA Act to contract qualified individuals to do the prosecution.