Editorial Comment: Judiciary should retain its independence

STUNNING revelations by acting Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi that he took instructions from the Executive on criminal prosecutions can only leave one with a sour taste in the mouth.

Editorial Comment

Whether he wanted to prove his loyalty to President Emmerson Mnangagwa before the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) interviewing panel or not, the claim, whether correct or a figment of his own imagination, proves beyond any reasonable doubt that it may still be early days yet to even think of separation of power and completely eradicating corruption.

It could also be a far-fetched dream to think that the country’s judiciary is or can at some point be independent with all these claims from the top prosecutor.

Now does this follow that any change in the Executive should necessitate change of guard across all these commissions as the President looks for pliable individuals to carry out his/her mandate.

Both ways the cartels must be destroyed while we must have an independent judiciary to ensure justice is delivered. Doesn’t this call for Zimbabwe to create very strong institutions rather than strongmen/women in our society?

That an entire judicial system — judges, magistrates and high-ranking police officers — could be captured, does not augur well for the future of our nation, and is a serious indictment on the lip-service that we have been paying towards eradicating this deeply entrenched vice.

This is such a serious indictment on the nation, and takes us several steps backwards in our puerile efforts to convince the international community that we have indeed turned the corner and need a second chance. It is a serious indictment on the Second Republic which now appears to be the First Republic in a different coat.

The Presidium has no role in directing the manner in which the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should exercise its constitutional mandate, or to even sidestep the judicial system. Its role is to ensure that all the bad apples in the system are plucked out. In fact, there may be need for a clean sweep if virtually all the judicial officers are “captured” – to use Hodzi’s word.

A captured system cannot be expected to exercise its mandate in an independent way it should. Perhaps that explains the economic upheavals that have visited upon us in the past few weeks as they sought to send a strong message to Mnangagwa to desist from his way of running government business. But we urge him to forge ahead in a serious way to crush all these cartels for the betterment of our people, especially if the President is clean after all.

The fact that Hodzi said his very life was in danger from the “cartel” simply means there is a lot of work that the Second Republic regime should do, lest we be reduced into a pariah State run by the Mafia. We do not believe the Mafia should have any place in Zimbabwe, but if we continue to deal with corruption with kid gloves as we have been doing all along, we are as well just playing and going nowhere.

Such a system can only scare away credible people of high moral standing and qualify for these jobs if the so-cold cartels are, indeed, manned by what Hodzi called “very high-ranking political figures” who believe that they are beyond the reach of the law and therefore untouchable.

We believe there is need for serious intervention if we are to restore credibility and integrity to our justice system which is clearly compromised at the moment.

Action must be taken now. Let’s have a high-profile conviction to send the message.