Parliament to Probe AG over dodgy selective prosecutions

A legislator from the MDC will this week move a motion in Parliament proposing the setting up of an Independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana’s conduct in the on-going politically motivated and selective prosecutions of human rights activists and legislators.

In a notice of motion obtained from Parliament, Masvingo Urban MP Tongai Matutu will Tuesday raise concerns over the increasingly worrying invocation of Section 121 of the CPEA by prosecutors and law officers from the AG.

Matutu will call for the appointment of an Independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the prosecution and conduct of the Attorney General (AG) in all the politically motivated prosecutions where law officers have been abusing Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) in revoking bail granted by courts.

He will also condemn the persecution of MDC MP’s and other human rights activists, which he blamed on the subjective role of the Attorney General and the selective application of the law and which is also deliberately aimed at whittling down the former opposition party’s majority in the House of Assembly.

“This House unreservedly condemns the unwarranted “convictions” and continuous selective application of the law; calls for the immediate withdrawal, reversal and quashing of all convictions or pending prosecutions and calls for the appointment of an Independent Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate the prosecution and conduct of the Attorney General in all politically motivated prosecutions,” reads part of the motion to be tabled by the Masvingo Urban MP.

Matutu’s motion follows protests raised by influential rights group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) that the AG’s office is abusing the controversial provision of the CPEA to keep accused persons in custody even where courts would have found no evidence that the accused persons are a threat to the interest of justice, society or the State.

Early this month the rights group published numerous cases in which section 121 of the CPEA was invoked by officers from the AG’s office particularly against human rights defenders and members of the MDC and most often after the expiry of the seven days, the State would not have filed an appeal.

Already, the Magistrate Courts has since referred to the Supreme Court an application filed by human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama challenging the constitutionality of section 121 of the CPEA. Muchadehama contends that Section 121 of the CPEA is ultravires the constitution in particular section 18 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and puts the AG above all other litigants when he should be treated as any other litigant. The human rights lawyer is also arguing that section 121 of the CPEA is too wide and vague making it unconstitutional in a democratic and justice society.