via I’m not resigning: Tomana – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 22, 2015
UNDER-FIRE Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana has dug in his heels declaring he would not be haunted into resigning from his post following his alleged gaffé over the age of sexual consent.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Tomana last week torched a fierce storm after he was quoted as saying children below the age of 16 could legally consent to sex and marriage.
His remarks attracted a backlash from politicians and child rights defenders, some of whom labelled him “a sexual pervert” and “child abuser”.
However, Tomana yesterday told NewsDay his statement had been misinterpreted and politicised to force him out of government, but vowed to hang on despite the heavy criticism.
“Why should I resign? Because the social media has been making unsubstantiated allegations against me? Some people have decided to crucify me without even trying to put the facts of what I really said on the table,” Tomana said.
“I have been called a pervert, a child abuser. I am already tainted and tarnished, but processes will be followed and they should be followed to make sure that those that are right are proven right and those in the wrong are proven so.”
While at first the opposition MDC-T demanded Tomana’s expulsion, the party spokesperson Obert Gutu said after listening to the audio, it became clear that the statements had been politicised.
“It’s apparent that Tomana has now been caught up in the crumbling Zanu PF’s factional wars. The political vultures are going for the jugular,” Gutu said.
“I am of the opinion that he was very careless and imprecise with his remarks, particularly considering the fact that he was commenting on a very emotive subject. As a lawyer, he should learn to be precise and smart when answering difficult questions. He should have categorically condemned the practice of having very young girls taken into marriage. I am afraid to say that he was dodgy, incoherent and evasive in that interview. The least he can do now is to apologise for making those controversial remarks.”
Political and social scientist Eldred Masunungure concurred that the Prosecutor-General had been entangled in a political cobweb.
“Everything in this country has political interpretations, especially if one is a senior public official. For Tomana, it is even worse because rumours that he had been in the wrong basket and had a soft spot for former Vice-President Joice Mujuru seem to have been proven right by the manner in which he was hanged out to dry,” Masunungure said.
“But Tomana also needs to reconcile the fact that in the print version of his interview, he seemed to insist that he was proffering a personal opinion, but in the rebuttal that we have read, he is emphatic that he was only interpreting the law as is, whether he likes it or not.”
Children’s rights activist and Katswe Sistahood programmes manager Winnet Shamuyarira said Tomana’s problem was that he was not emphatic in his condemnation of the existing law’s tacit support for child abuse.
“While he seemed to have been explaining the law, he (Tomana) creates a problem in that he advocated against the realignment of the law that encourages abuse of children. That, we have a problem with,” Shamuyarira said.
“We cannot be seen to celebrate paedophiles and those that abuse children because if an older man seeks out a 12-year-old and has sex with them, then that man has a problem.
“If we are saying a 12-year-old can sustain a family and have children as a mother, we should then go ahead and allow them to vote as well as have driver’s licences because basically, we are saying they are able to make any decision that older people can make. Our problem is that we view girls and women as sex objects.”
Legal expert Alex Magaisa said Tomana “spoke like a man in a pub” and deserves every condemnation coming his way.
“Of course, he lost it! There is no question about it. Everything that is printed is what he said. You guys (media) should not fall into the trap of politicising everything. This is an important social issue over which the country’s highest legal officer has made some reckless and thoughtless comments,” Magaisa said.
“Tomana spoke like a man in a pub and he has no business doing that. We get a poor government because there are people out there who are prepared to accept mediocrity and to understand mediocrity.
You heard him there making some ridiculous policy pronouncements on child marriage, saying 15-year-olds can make conscious decisions to marry, but the Constitution very clearly says the age of marriage is 18.”