Acting Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi has hit the ground running, directing the prosecution of at least five high-profile figures on corruption charges, with the cases expected in court soon. Mr Hodzi, who took oath of office before President Mnangagwa yesterday morning, immediately ordered the prosecution of the suspects, whose dockets had since been completed.
President Mnangagwa has declared zero-tolerance to corruption.
Mr Hodzi took up the post in an acting capacity pending an investigation into why Advocate Ray Goba allegedly failed to execute his duties to expectation.
Adv Goba was recently suspended on allegations of failing to prosecute high-profile cases, travelling without Cabinet authority, use of abusive language, among other charges.
In an interview, Mr Hodzi said his priority was to effectively prosecute all corruption cases without fear or favour in line with Government’s thrust to create a corruption-free society.
He said all corrupt elements were going to be prosecuted regardless of their status.
“Today, my first directive to the NPA office and all the key stakeholders who answer to me in terms of my constitutional mandate, was to ensure that key corruption cases be formally brought before the court henceforth,” said Mr Hodzi.
“Those that are guilty of corruption will be rigorously prosecuted without fear or favour. Already, I have directed the prosecution of a number of high-profile corruption cases and five or so of the accused persons are expected to appear in court soon.”
Mr Hodzi said he will respect the rights of the accused persons during the prosecution.
“I have also directed that rigorous attention be paid to the rights of all accused persons,” he said.
“This is a new dispensation. Gone are the days where accused were brought to court in leg irons and at the back of open trucks.
“Gone are the days when accused persons would be over-detained or harassed in any manner. But when it comes to prosecution, I will ensure that those that are guilty of breaking the law are prosecuted to the fullest extent.”
Mr Hodzi said he will carry out his duties impartially and in consultation with key stakeholders.
“I am a professional and have been professional for the past 33 years,” he said. “I intend to carry out my responsibility impartially and professionally, with integrity. I will do so in full consultation with key stakeholders, including the citizenry of Zimbabwe.
“I will work with the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Judicial Service Commission, the Attorney General’s office, to put in place case management rules to ensure cases are prosecuted at the earliest possible time and are completed within reasonable time.”
President Mnangagwa swore in Mr Hodzi as Acting Prosecutor-General yesterday at a brief ceremony held at State House.
In an interview soon after holding a meeting with President Mnangagwa, Mr Hodzi said the Head of State and Government had assured him maximum support in fighting crime.
“I have just had a brief with the President,” he said. “I promise the country that we are going to hit the ground running. There is plenty of work to be done. I have promised the President that we will prioritise the work of fighting corruption.”
Mr Hodzi said they will also compliment Government thrust of ensuring an environment conducive for business and investment.
“We are going to ensure that according to the dictates of the new dispensation, we will ensure that whatever laws we will enforce, especially the prosecution, it will make the business environment very friendly for investment,” he said.
“We are also cognisant that we are moving towards elections. One of the priorities that I have as Acting PG is to ensure that we maintain the peaceful environment that has existed. I think we all agree that the election period has been the most peaceful environment.”
Mr Hodzi said the President had been clear in terms of his expectation.
“The President has been frank,” he said. “He wants us to maintain a rigorous rule of law programme. He would also want to ensure that peace prevails in the country. He said he will give us maximum support to ensure that the laws of the country are observed.”
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Mr Hodzi’s tenure would run for four months by which time a tribunal established by President Mnangagwa would have concluded an inquiry on Mr Goba.
He dismissed claims from some quarters that the Special Prosecution Unit in the President’s office led by Mr Thabani Mpofu would undermine the independence of the PG.
“The Special Unit is composed of prosecutors, but it is not a prosecution unit,” he said. “It is an anti-corruption unit to assist the investigators, to complete the dockets and recommend anything so that we have complete dockets ready for prosecution.
“What the Prosecutor-General would then do is that if he sees it fit he can then assign anyone of those prosecutors to proceed to prosecute and then issue a prosecution certificate. This unit is to enhance our work to fight corruption and the President saw it fit to have it in his office to show the seriousness that we have to fight corruption.”
Mr Hodzi served as Deputy Attorney General since 2012 in charge of the Legal Advice section.
He is an experienced lawyer of 33 years, who has practiced law in different capacities, and once served as a magistrate for years.
Mr Hodzi was also a prosecutor and law officer for many years, and was once attached to the Criminal Tribunal.
He also practiced as a solicitor in the United Kingdom.
Mr Hodzi served as a law lecturer, legal proctor and chairperson of the Legal Advice Clinic.
He holds a law degree from the University of Zimbabwe and a first class Master’s degree in International Public Law (University of Lund, Sweden).
He is studying towards a doctorate in International Law.