THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), a constitutional body which institutes criminal proceedings on behalf of the state, has not been adequately funded, resulting in a series of resignations amid decreasing morale among staff members, it has emerged.
By Wongai Zhangazha
There are fears the operations of the authority may be paralysed if the trend continues.
President Robert Mugabe in July 2014 signed the NPA Act into law, paving way for the operationalisation of the authority which used to be part of the Attorney-General’s Office.
NPA corporate affairs manager Allen Chifokoyo revealed that 16 staff members had resigned since the beginning of the year, partly because of low morale.
Government allocated the NPA US$1,1 million in the 2016 financial year, but by May only US$46 000 had been released.
“Lack of funding is hampering our operations since we cannot pay for our supplies. We are even in arrears with Old Mutual for rentals at Head Office and the debt is ballooning every month since no money is coming from Treasury. Now we owe about half-a-million (US) dollars,” he said.
“The NPA has not been capacitated since it became an independent authority. We have become a laughing stock at all the courts as the people compare us to our better equipped counterparts in the judiciary. Prosecutors are now being viewed as subordinates to magistrates while housed in squalid conditions.”
Chifokoyo said NPA staffers were working under very poor conditions as they lacked basic resources such as stationery, office furniture and cars.
“Our cars are all old, most of which were donated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in 2008. They are always breaking down and it’s very costly to service them. Most district stations do not have cars,” he said.
“We urge government to improve the conditions of service for NPA staff members to boost morale which has hit rock bottom. There are spates of resignations, 16 people have resigned so far this year and, if the trend continues, operations of the NPA may be paralysed.”
The NPA last year complained that it was receiving very little money from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) generated from the courts. The NPA and other departments in the Justice Ministry also complained that the JSC was failing to disclose the amount of money it was collecting from the courts as part of a ploy to ensure the commission retains the money at the expense of other departments.
“We have started receiving our allocated share for the past few months but we are not certain if it’s the correct amount. The JSC just deposits money in our account but we have not had sight of the schedules of the monies collected for us to be certain that we are receiving the correct share,” Chifokoyo said.
According to Section 32 (9) of the NPA Act, the JSC is supposed to retain 40% of court revenue, while allocating 30% to the NPA, 20% to the AG’s office and 10% to the Justice ministry.
Before the NPA Act came into force, the JSC retained 80% of the funds while 20% was disbursed to the AG’s office.