‘No fear or favour in prosecuting criminal cases’

Wallace Ruzvidzo Herald Reporter

The National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe (NPA) is working around the clock to minimise the level of crime and corruption through the efficient prosecution of cases, “without fear or favour”.

Postponement of trials should also be minimised at all costs to ensure justice is delivered in time, new Prosecutor-General Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo has said.

The recent conviction of accused in high-profile cases since Justice Matanda-Moyo’s appointment was evidence enough that crime would never be tolerated while proceeds of crime would not be enjoyed by anyone any more.

Since assuming the post of PG, Justice Matanda-Moyo has overseen the conviction of high-profile cases including that of former Deputy Finance Minister Terence Mukupe, who received a three-year jail term and was ordered to pay a steep fine, for importing more than 138 000 litres of diesel without paying duty.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya was also convicted recently for attempting to smuggle 6kg gold worth US$333 000 to Dubai, a few years ago, and saw all that gold being confiscated while having to pay a large fine.

In an interview, Justice Matanda-Moyo said the NPA was making headway in ensuring that crime and corruption were reduced in the short-term and potentially eliminated in the long-term, to boost investor confidence and ultimately foreign direct investment (FDI).

President Mnangagwa continues to promote Zimbabwe as an investment destination of choice and many global companies are taking up the available opportunities while others are making serious inquiries.

In recent years, many people had christened the NPAZ “a toothless bulldog” as it struggled to see through the effective prosecution of cases.

But Justice Matanda-Moyo says she will change the people’s perception of the NPAZ through comprehensive work of ensuring everyone with a case to answer gets their day in court.

“My main mission is to ensure that criminal cases are prosecuted without fear or favour in the interest of the public,” she said.

“In so doing, the office must maintain integrity in the processes and remain accountable. Crime and corruption rates within our country must be minimised through effective prosecution of cases.”

“It is our duty as the NPAZ that corruption is substantially reduced to also ensure Zimbabwe is positioned to attract foreign investment.”

Presently, the PG’s office is seized with clearing the backlog in cases as well as improving the clearance rate.

Public confidence, said PG Matanda-Moyo, was of paramount importance, hence the NPAZ is working on ensuring it is regained.

“Definitely all the law enforcement agents must be assured that the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe will, henceforth, work closely with them in ensuring that criminal cases are finalised within the shortest period.

“I have already instructed our prosecutors that postponement of cases should be the exception and not the norm. All cases set down for trial must be heard on those days that they are scheduled to be heard.

“Furthermore, public trust remains key to achieving our mandate. It is, therefore, crucial that the office acts transparently in order not to lose that public trust. During my tenure as Prosecutor-General, I would want to see the development of criminal law jurisprudence.

“Indeed there are a lot of areas that need improvement. Our backlog at the moment is huge and we are reviewing our prosecuting strategies to speed up our case clearance rate,” she said.

PG Matanda-Moyo said “gone are the days” when witnesses were not accorded due respect. From now on, a symbiotic relationship with witnesses will be nurtured as well as increased collaboration with other arms in the criminal justice system, she said. The days when witnesses would be travelling to court “just for postponements” are now gone.

“We value our witnesses and they shall be accorded that respect. We must never get to a point when the public loses trust in the system as that can create anarchy in society.

“I am very alive to the important role this office enjoys within the criminal justice delivery system. We are also improving our collaboration and coordination with other actors in the criminal justice delivery system to ensure the smooth flow of cases from investigating authorities, thus ensuring quick disposal of cases,” she said.

PG Matanda-Moyo added that the NPA was working towards increased transparency and seamless operations in the judicial services system.

“The NPAZ urgently requires an integrated electronic system to feed into the judiciary one. The obtaining situation where prosecutors share gadgets with criminals is not ideal.

“We are working flat out to ensure that the situation is resolved in all provinces,” she said.

PG Matanda-Moyo, who is the immediate-past chairperson of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), took her oath of office last month.

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