ATTORNEY-General Johannes Tomana last week made startling pronouncements that once again give credence to questions about his professionalism and competence as the country’s chief law officer.
Tomana declared that it was the sole constitutional prerogative of President Robert Mugabe to appoint or re-appoint the Police Commissioner-General and constitutional bodies without consulting anyone apart from the Police Service Commission. He then took it upon himself to write the epitaph of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which gave birth to the current inclusive government, saying the pact had expired.
His utterances were triggered by the expiry of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri’s contract and contentions that it could not be extended by Mugabe without consulting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in line with the GPA. Tsvangirai and the two MDC formations in the inclusive government want the top cop to vacate office for his alleged partisanship, selective application of the law and human rights abuses by his force, among other vices.
Tomana said media reports on Chihuri’s future in the police force were “criminal”, adding that the Commissioner-General’s office “was the only executive authority that the head of state uses to guarantee security in the country”.
“No one should interfere with that institution, except the president who is answerable to the people for its success and failures. Breaches of the constitution from now on around that office would not be tolerated,” he was quoted saying. “The same applies to all other constitutional offices through which the presidency uses to deliver the constitutional protection that citizens of this country are entitled to.”
Contrary to Tomana’s claim, the three principals in the inclusive government — Mugabe, Tsvangirai and deputy premier Arthur Mutambara — met in the capital on Monday and Wednesday and decided to uphold provisions of the GPA, not only on Chihuri’s issues, but on an array of toxic issues of the pact signed in September 2008.
The principals unequivocally agreed to follow due process. In Chihuri’s case the Police Service Commission should make recommendations to the president for Chihuri’s reappointment. Mugabe and Tsvangirai will then “discuss” the proposals before the reappointment. From the deliberations of the principals and their reading of the GPA and the constitution, Mugabe does not have the sole mandate to reappoint Chihuri or any other service chief. Reappointments of service chiefs would be a collective responsibility of the inclusive government and they are not guaranteed. The principals laid bare Tomana’s duplicity on such an important matter.
The outcome of the principals’ meeting was however thrown out the window by Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba who claimed yesterday that Mugabe told Tsvangirai and Mutambara that he has the sole responsibility of appointing Service Chiefs. He also claimed that Tsvangirai and Mutambara had pleaded with the president to inform them of such appointments for the sake of appeasing their constituencies.
As we have said and will continue to say the GPA was poorly couched and as such Tomana wants to exploit its ambiguity on the appointment of officials to key positions. The pact is not explicit on what the key positions are.
Our Attorney-General stands accused by the MDC formations and civic society of having made several questionable decisions since his unilateral appointment by Mugabe. No one can begrudge them making such disparaging allegations given his latest attempt to gag the media from tackling national issues like the Chihuri contract. His public declaration that he supports Zanu PF muddles the situation — whose interests is he serving? Does he deserve to continue as Attorney-General given his shenanigans?
The principals’ meeting also debunked claims that the GPA had expired a long time ago because there was never a sunset clause in the agreement. If the GPA had expired, why is the inclusive government still subsisting when it is a creature of that agreement?
On a parting note, I salute readers and advertisers of the Zimbabwe Independent for supporting the newspaper under my editorship for close to two years. It was an eventful and enjoyable experience. We will meet again in the columns of NewsDay. Cheerio!