Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
LAWYERS have welcomed the appointment of Advocate Prince Machaya to the post of Attorney-General in line with the dictates of the new Constitution.
The AG’s office became vacant following the split of the office’s functions in the new Constitution adopted in May 2013.
The office was split into two — AG and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) — with the latter now headed by Mr Johannes Tomana as Prosecutor-General.
President Mugabe last week Thursday appointed Adv Machaya to the coveted post, putting a lid on the speculation over who would take the top job as the chief government legal adviser.
Legal experts welcomed the appointment saying Adv Machaya was a lawyer of impeccable credentials suitable for the job.
Law Society of Zimbabwe immediate past president Mr Lloyd Mhishi said it was a worthy appointment as Adv Machaya has the maturity, temperament and experience required for the post.
“The appointment is welcome news, firstly because it is a fulfilment of the requirements of Section 114 of the new Constitution and, secondly, because this person has the responsibility to work on making laws compliant with it and is enjoined by the very same Constitution to promote the rule of law,” said Mr Mhishi.
“Added to that, the fact that the AG constitutionally has a right of audience before the three pillars of the State means that the post is very powerful, yet has no security of tenure as the Constitution says he can be removed at any time.” Advocate Fadzayi Mahere said President Mugabe made a sound appointment in elevating Adv Machaya.
“Adv Machaya brings a wealth of experience to the table, which hopefully bodes well for the heavy task that lies ahead in respect of the alignment of legislation with the Constitution,” she said.
Lawyer and academic at University of Zimbabwe, Ms Chiedza Simbo, said the appointment of Adv Machaya was a welcome development, which cemented Zimbabwe’s progress towards establishing a culture of constitutionalism and the rule of law.
She, however, said it would have been good to have a woman AG.
“It is unfortunate the AG is a man.
“We had hoped she could be a woman since the Prosecutor-General is a man,” said Ms Simbo.
Lawyer Mr Obert Gutu said: “I have known Advocate Prince Machaya for many years. He is a lawyer of impeccable credentials.
“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he will acquit himself very well as the Attorney-General of Zimbabwe. I would like to heartily congratulate my learned friend on his elevation to that esteemed post.”
Another lawyer, Mr Farai Chinhema, said the appointment was long overdue, but worth the wait.
“He is a professional and is likely to be acceptable to Zimbabweans across the political divide.
“In a deeply politically polarised society like ours, Adv Machaya comes across as a rare breed of professional who has the trust and confidence of people of different shades of opinion,” said Mr Chinhema.
Women Lawyers of Southern Africa also welcomed Adv Machaya’s appointment, saying as an organisation they had on several occasions called for the speedy alignment of laws with the new Constitution.
“We are convinced that the new AG will prioritise this exercise,” said WLSA national director Ms Sylvia Chirawu.
“We welcome his appointment, given his vast experience in the legal profession,” she said.
Mr Farai Mutamangira also welcomed Adv Machaya’s appointment: “This development is most welcome. Advocate Machaya is best suited for the job.”
The Attorney-General is the chief Government legal adviser and is an ex-officio member of both Cabinet and Parliament where he can contribute in debates but cannot vote.
Whereas the PG has responsibility to the State, the AG has responsibility to the Government, which is his client. He represents Government in civil litigation and is responsible for its legal drafting.