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Mixed feelings over new Prosecutor-General

Adv Ray Hamilton Goba
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HARARE – The appointment of Ray Goba as the new Prosecutor-General (PG) has drawn mixed feelings among lawyers with some questioning his suitability for the job after he was convicted in Namibia for drunk driving and attempting to defeat justice.

Goba himself, during the interview to choose the PG vigorously defended himself and said the conviction was a blot on a white piece of paper.

The veteran lawyer was on Wednesday announced the new PG by President Robert Mugabe — taking over in a substantive capacity after serving a year on an interim basis — following the suspension and subsequent sacking of  his predecessor, Johannes Tomana.

“Zimbabwe’s new Prosecutor-General, Ray Goba, has a previous conviction of obstructing the course of justice.

“Despite his record of obstructing the course of justice, Mugabe decided he was the best person to facilitate the course of justice,” United Kingdom (UK)-based lawyer Alex Magaisa said.

Goba, who once served as Namibia’s deputy PG, was in 2002 convicted of drunk driving and failing to obey a road traffic sign as well as attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The conviction over his attempt to obstruct or defeat the course of justice forced the Namibian government to deny him a work and residence permit in Namibia in 2011 on the strength of the conviction.

Following the regional court’s ruling, Goba appealed to the High Court in 2004 seeking to quash the conviction. But Justice Gerhard Maritz upheld the conviction.

His application for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court was dismissed.

Goba was part of eight candidates interviewed in public by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on August 21 for appointment as Zimbabwe’s second PG.

His name was among a shortlist of three candidates who excelled in those interviews who included Wilson Manase and Misheck Hogwe

During the public interviews, Goba was grilled over his conviction.

He did not deny the conviction, which he described as unfortunate, claiming the matter was irrationally dealt with, leading to the conviction.

Goba denied intimidating the police through his Namibian government office. He said when he was arrested, he was driving a Zimbabwe-registered motor vehicle, resulting in police officers asking him what he was doing in Namibia.

“It’s important to look at the circumstances, it was a traffic-related altercation. It did not prejudice me in that country and I wonder why Zimbabwe would want to punish me for something that happened in a foreign country,” Goba said then.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who was among the panel of interviewers suggested Goba seemed to treat the offence lightly.

“Every offence is serious, but it should be considered against the background and circumstances…It’s a blot on a white piece of paper,” the new PG defended himself then.

While other lawyers questioned the suitability of Goba for the PG’s job, Tazorora Musarurwa, said that he is the right man for the job.

“Congratulations to advocate Ray Goba on his appointment. He is certainly the best man for the job. The perfect will say otherwise,” Musarurwa wrote on his Twitter account.

Goba replaces Tomana who was sacked after a disciplinary tribunal chaired by retired judge Moses Chinhengo found him unfit and incompetent to continue in office.

Tomana is facing a slew of allegations arising from the time he was the attorney-general and the PG, respectively.