Fidelis Munyoro : Chief Court Reporter
The disciplinary hearing to determine suspended Prosecutor-General (PG) Johannes Tomana’s suitability to continue holding the esteemed office started yesterday. Mr Tomana pleaded not guilty to all the eight counts of improper conduct when the disciplinary hearing commenced before a three-member tribunal.Retired High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo is chairing the tribunal with two other members, University of Zimbabwe Dean of Law Mr Emmanuel Magade and lawyer, Ms Melina Matshiya.
The tribunal hearing against Mr Tomana comes after he was charged with eight counts of criminal abuse of office.
His criminal trial was deferred this week. Harare lawyer Mr Andrew Mugandiwa is prosecuting in the tribunal case while Advocate Thabani Mpofu is acting for Mr Tomana.
According to reliable sources, a Transparent International Zimbabwe representative testified in the probe. The anti-corruption body compiled a report on the alleged corruption activities the office of the then Attorney-General committed during Mr Tomana’s reign.
However, the hearing was deferred to tomorrow for continuation.
Mr Tomana is being probed for things he is alleged to have done when he was still the Attorney-General. He is alleged to have refused to prosecute the traffic case of Bright Matonga which resulted in the death of a woman he ran over with his vehicle.
He is also accused of rubber-stamping the acquittal of former Zupco board chairman Professor Charles Nherera, when he took over as the then AG.
Prof Nherera had been convicted of corruption. Nherera, who had served a two-year prison term, was acquitted by the High Court barely a year after Mr Tomana was appointed to the post of AG.
Following his acquittal, Prof Nherera sued businessman Mr Jayesh Shah for malicious prosecution and demanded damages to the tune of $400 000.
Mr Tomana is alleged to have invoked provisions of Section 35 of the High Court Act to quash Prof Nherera’s conviction.
Under the Act, the quashing of an appeal is made upon the prosecution consenting to the appeal.
The court noted that Mr Tomana was the legal advisor to zupco, which was involved in the criminal prosecution of Prof Nherera at the time, as well as his legal representative in addition to being a board member of zupco.
The other charges arise from his refusal to comply with court orders. He was in October last year slapped with a 30-day jail term for contempt of court after he defied court orders to issue certificates for the private prosecution of former Bikita West legislator Munyaradzi Kereke and Telecel shareholder Dr Jane Mutasa.
The sentence was wholly set aside on condition that he complied with the court orders and issued private prosecution certificates to Mr Francis Maramwidze and Telecel within 10 days, or he would be barred from practising as a lawyer in Zimbabwe.
Kereke has since been jailed an effective 10 years for raping an 11-year-old relative while Mutasa’s charges of swindling the company of airtime recharge cards worth millions of dollars were dropped.
President Mugabe set up the tribunal following recommendations from the Judicial Service Commission in accordance with Section 187(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
JSC made recommendations to the President in May this year for the establishment of a tribunal to investigate and assess whether Mr Tomana is still fit to hold his office.