FOUR senior lawyers all with close ties to President Robert Mugabe over the past decade and a half are leading the race to occupy the post of Attorney-General (AG).
Mugabe is expected to appoint a substantive AG from a shortlist of four seasoned attorneys who have all at one point represented him in the courts.
The AG’s office became vacant following the split of the office’s functions in the new constitution adopted in May 2013. The office was split into two — AG and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) — with the latter now headed by Johannes Tomana as Prosecutor-General.
A source in the legal fraternity said Mugabe is likely to pick from a shortlist of four advocates who have worked with him at different levels in the past.
“There are three favourites and one dark horse in the race to the AG’s office,” said the source. “Leading the pack are acting AG, Prince Machaya, Advocate Farai Mutamangira and senior lawyer Terrence Hussein while former minister and ex-Copac chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, is a dark horse.”
Another source added: “Mangwana was initially the favourite before the backbiting and bad publicity surrounding his Copac (Constitution Parliamentary Committee) days hit the headlines during the constitution-making exercise.”
The new AG will be the chief legal advisor to cabinet and government and will also be an ex-officio member of cabinet and parliament.
Section 114(4) of the constitution, among other things, says the AG’s duties shall be: “To act as the principal legal adviser to the government, represent the government in civil and constitutional proceedings and to draft legislation on behalf of the government.”
Machaya has vast experience working in the AG’s office and until the split of the office, he was deputy AG.
Mutamangira has been a Hwange Colliery board member and part of the legal team that represented Mugabe during litigation in relation to poll dates last year and the subsequent election result petition.
Hussein, on the other hand, has enjoyed a long relationship as Mugabe’s lawyer for over a decade. He was board vice-chairperson at Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (2000—2003), Ziscosteel board member (2004-2008), Harare City Council commissioner (2006—2008) and chaired Harare Municipal Medical Aid Society from 2004 to 2008.
Mangwana has sat in three different cabinets under Mugabe since 2000. He was also appointed Zanu PF co-chairperson of Copac.