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[February 13, 2014]
Tomana appeal regrettable [Zimbabwean, The]
(Zimbabwean, The Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana's appeal against a Supreme Court directive has been described as a step backwards in the fight against corruption. Tomana Tomana is refusing to issue a licence that would allow Telecel to privately prosecute one of its shareholders, Jane Mutasa, for fraud. Analysts believe that the prosecution would go a long way in curbing corruption and abuse of office in both the private and public sectors while promoting transparency and accountability.
A private prosecution is started by a private individual or entity not acting on behalf of the police or any other prosecuting authority. It is sometimes referred to as a safeguard against the failure or refusal by the authorities to prosecute.
Mutasa, was arrested in 2010 together with Telecel's Commercial Director, Naguib Omar, on allegations of swindling the mobile service provider of more than $1,7 million in airtime cards.
Tomana had contended there was lack of evidence against Mutasa. Last year, the High Court threw out Telecel's application for a certificate of private prosecution saying a private company could not carry out its own prosecution. This prompted Telecel to make another appeal to the Supreme Court which was granted last month.
Tomana has launched a Constitutional Court appeal against the Supreme Court directive. Lawyer Chris Mhike said enforcement of the Supreme Court's directive would have been constructive in the development of the country's justice delivery system.
Zhuwarara said private prosecution would ensure no stone is left unturned in cases where individuals are suspected of having committed such acts as corruption, fraud or bribery and the complainants feel there is some kind of lethargy on the part of the prosecuting authorities.
"This process is very important in our law because we need a system that allows an interested party to pursue a criminal matter to whether or not the Prosecutor General wants to proceed with that matter. Such a type of procedure would allow individuals or companies to bring matters to a logical conclusion especially in cases where they feel a crime has been committed.
"Private prosecution remains a safeguard in cases where the national prosecuting authority has made mistakes or there has been some gross negligence over a particular issue," said Zhuwarara.
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, Jessie Majome, described Tomana's actions as regrettable. "I think that is something that amounts to abuse of office and authority. His authority to prosecute is not meant for the purpose of controlling prosecutions. What it means is that if he decides not to prosecute, then he should clear the way for others to prosecute," said Majome.
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