Dossier implicates Tomana in high criminal activities

Attorney General Johannes Tomana should be subjected to a criminal investigation for helping his associates to escape criminal liability in the past few years, a civil society anti-corruption report has said.

The report, entitled Johannes Tomana’s Reign as Attorney General of Zimbabwe – A Trail of Questionable Decisions 2011, cites four high-profile cases in which Tomana is linked to criminal abuse of office.

The dossier, which was seen by the Sunday Times, calls on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the police and the Ministry of Justice to investigate Tomana in the same way as his predecessor, Sobuza Gula-Ndebele, was investigated and hounded out of his job three years ago over infighting within Zanu-PF.

A copy of the report has been handed over to the Ministry of Justice, while a formal report to the JSC is expected to be made by Transparency International Zimbabwe, one of the NGOs which wants Tomana probed.

Deputy Justice Minister Obert Gutu confirmed he had received the report and said he was still studying it before deciding the next move.

The civil servant organisations also want the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), the Anti-Corruption Commission and parliament to investigate the controversial Tomana, who for the past two years has been a subject of conflict between Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.

The four cases in question involve Tomana’s alleged instructions to cancel the prosecution of Zanu-PF official Bright Matonga who is said to be his close associate, businessman Patrick Mavros, former Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) board chairman Charles Nherera and Beauty Basile.

"All four individuals whose cases are discussed in this report were accused of engaging in actions that caused financial prejudice either directly to the government or to parastatals.

"Anecdotal evidence from the police and prosecutors points to rampant abuse of power by the Attorney General’s Office on numerous other cases, a large number of which are not in the public domain.

"The abuse is not limited to stopping prosecutions where the facts and the law demand that there be prosecution, but includes the prosecution of persons where the facts and the law do not justify prosecution. A public inquiry would help unearth even those that are covered up before they are made public," says the report.

The report says Basile was the acting medical superintendent at Bindura Hospital and was charged in March 2009 with 219 counts of criminal misconduct. The prosecution argued that she abused a fuel facility in 2006, prejudicing the state of 15 000 litres of fuel.

However, the trial was brought to a premature end in November 2009 when a memorandum from Tomana’s office, signed by chief law officer Michael Mugabe, directed the prosecutor in charge to stop the trial in terms of Section 9 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. "The decision by the Attorney General to curtail the criminal proceedings against Basile undermined the efforts of the Anti-Corruption Commission and the police who had painstakingly collected and collated evidence of corruption by a high-ranking government official.

"The invoking of Section 9 compelled the court to return a verdict of not guilty in favour of Beauty Basile without having had the benefit of hearing the entire evidence," it reads.

In February 2006, Matonga was charged with two counts of corruption. It was alleged that he solicited bribes from a bus supplier.

Matonga was also accused of inflating by $2000 the price of each of the 75 buses bought by Zupco between 2003 and 2004. He was represented then by a law firm in which Tomana worked.

"A month after Tomana was appointed Attorney General, prosecutor Mercy Dube withdrew the charges against Matonga after plea. The prosecutor stated that she was unable to secure the attendance of key witnesses in the case."

Nherera was also represented by Tomana’s law firm. The report says Mavros was arrested in 2009 for illegal possession of gold worth $200 000. He admitted the charge but the charges were withdrawn.