THE INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL NEMUKUYU
President Mnangagwa on Wednesday swore-in Mr Kumbirai Hodzi (KH) as the country’s substantive Prosecutor-General (PG). Prior to his confirmation, Mr Hodzi was Acting PG for six months. Our Senior Court Reporter Daniel Nemukuyu (DN) interviews the new prosecution boss on his constitutional mandate, vision for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the fight against corruption.
DN: How do you feel being appointed substantive Prosecutor-General?
KH: I am happy for the appointment. I feel honoured and it confirms the nation has confidence in me. The task and mission remains the same, but what has only changed is that there is now a new urgency in terms of carrying out the task and mission.
DN: Mr Hodzi, can you tell us about your mandate as PG?
KH: The mandate is clear and categorical as it flows from the Constitution of Zimbabwe. My office is mandated with prosecution of all criminal offences and carrying out ancillary roles. The office is the apex in terms of law enforcement.
DN: What is your vision for the NPA?
KH: My vision is to establish a world-class prosecutorial institution, an institution that is responsive to all issues that arise in the maintenance of law and order, public peace and the enforcement of the laws and prosecution of crimes. My vision is to ensure that there is full and satisfactory service to the people of Zimbabwe.
We must ensure that the people live in an environment which is free from crime and corruption.
The prosecutor is supposed to be the very embodiment of the State. He or she is the shield of the community against the occurrence of anarchy, lawlessness and disorder.
DN: We have heard of corruption in the justice delivery system, how do you intend to deal with it?
KH: We have already made tremendous in-roads against corruption in the justice delivery system. We had incidents of people complaining that justice was now being bought and that court decisions were now being made elsewhere.
We came out with strategies to effectively fight corruption and to ensure that people have full confidence in the justice delivery system. As I speak, there are investigations in progress from the lower to the highest courts. Judicial officers, public prosecutors and lawyers are under investigation.
The most heinous corruption is emanating from legal practitioners and a number of them are being investigated. They are being investigated for extortion, corrupt property transfers, and other allegations bordering on gross unprofessional conduct.
DN: The NPA itself has been under attack, being accused of graft within its rank and file, what measures are you taking to stem out the vice?
KH: We take allegations of corruption seriously within the NPA. We have received corruption complaints against some of our officers and we have launched investigations.
We have carried out internal investigations with the assistance of the police. Disciplinary action will be taken. For the very bad apples, dockets were compiled and they will be arrested.
DN: NPA has registered a few convictions on high profile corruption cases so far. What could be the reason and what are you doing to improve the situation?
KH: The conviction rate is low and we are disappointed with the number of convictions so far.
In January 2018, I gave a directive that all high profile criminal prosecutions will be deferred until we have carried out a thorough diagnostic survey on why we had such a low rate of convictions. From our side, looking at the cases brought before the courts, we are happy with the quality of the dockets and investigations.
We are in the process of looking at the quality of prosecution of the cases in the courts by our own prosecutors. Preliminary assessment shows that our prosecutors are doing a good job, although there are one or two cases where we were not impressed.
I propose that all the stakeholders in the justice system, judicial officers included, must undergo technical training on how to deal with corruption and other complex cases.
All stakeholders require such kind of training.
DN: How far have you gone with plans to acquire your own buildings for NPA offices?
KH: We are much more determined to have our own building for the head office. We also require more buildings for our provincial offices throughout the country. We are in the process of purchasing the buildings to ensure our independence and to avoid cases of mingling with criminals.
DN: I understand you were having rental problems at Corner House where your head office is currently housed. What is the latest?
KH: There is now stability at the NPA and we are managing. Things are now under control.
DN: Your post appears like a hot seat, with a number of your predecessors having been fired or resigned under unclear circumstances. Are you not afraid of being fired as well?
KH: I am not afraid at all. I will simply do my job properly. I will carry out my work in strict dictates to my mandate.
I intend to carry out my work in full consultation with all stakeholders. There are always nefarious attempts to destabilise the NPA, but they will be defeated.
DN: We understand you have had personal and physical attacks in the fight against corruption when you were Acting PG to the extent of partially losing sight. Are you brave enough to continue with the fight?
KH: The PG’s post is a crucial one in the fight against crime and every nation should have it.
The post had to be filled due to its importance. It is a call of duty which requires dedication and professionalism. I have to carry out my duty without fear or favour. I am not cowered by the corrupt or criminal elements.
Yes, I have had vicious personal and physical attacks, but I remain strong and resolute. I am still taking medication for my eye and it is recovering.
DN: How do you intend to motivate your staff?
KH: The greatest achievement we have made is bringing my staff together under unity of purpose. My staff is highly motivated. For example, during last week’s stay-away, all our 52 stations remained open and 90 percent of the staff reported for duty despite the fact that a number of them had to walk long distances due to transport problems.
I am in the process of making sure that their conditions of service are improved. We need to remunerate prosecutors well.
DN: Can you share with us the NPA’s successes, if any?
KH: We have had plenty of success stories. There was instability, but we brought the staff together. We have done some refurbishments and furnishing to our offices at most stations. We also managed to recruit 109 prosecutors and 15 administrators. We also secured donor funding for training of staff.
We have also secured a training post within the Commonwealth jurisdiction where we sent our officers for training.
DN: What challenges are you facing?
KH: We face a number of challenges, but a good leader should be able to manage. The biggest challenge is that of some forces who continuously try to destabilise the NPA, but we are putting measures to ensure there will be no more destabilisation attempts.