THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), a constitutional body which institutes criminal proceedings on behalf of the state, has recruited 106 new prosecutors to fill in gaps created by mass resignations over the years as a result of plummeting morale among staff and poor working conditions caused by lack of resources.
By Wongai Zhangazha
The prosecutors began work on August 1. Some NPA staffers were hoping that the recruitment will see those seconded from various security services, including the army, air force, prisons and police, being removed.
Apart from being assigned prosecutorial roles, the security sector is also in charge of administration, human resources, information communication technology systems, secretarial work and procurement at the NPA.
However, acting Prosecutor-General (PG) Kumbirai Hodzi this week told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview that they will not let go of the military personnel as there was a plan to open more courts countrywide.
Former PG Ray Goba in August last year revealed that seconded staff constitute about 46% of the NPA workforce and that most of them do not have requisite qualifications in the form of a law degree.
“Let me make it very clear because there has been a lot of miscommunication about that. Nobody is leaving the NPA. In fact, we are in the process of recruiting plenty more. The Judicial Service Commission is currently expanding the courts in the country with the aim of making justice accessible to even the remotest parts of the country and this calls for retention of more staff members and everybody and we are not worried about where they came from because some of them have become very good professionals,” Hodzi said.
Relationships between permanent staff and seconded staff were so tense that in April an emergency meeting attended by all “prosecuting staff” was held at the NPA head office to discuss grievances and the salary disparities. The major bone of contention was the disparity in salaries and working conditions as seconded staff received preferential treatment.
The meeting was attended by representatives from all provinces and the agenda of the meeting was to “update all prosecutors of operational issues within the NPA”.
At the time, seconded staff were also getting back-dated salaries which their colleagues were not.
The Justice ministry was tasked with investigating the issue. Hodzi said he was working tirelessly to ensure that conditions for all NPA staff improve.