By Blessings Mashaya
Government will soon remove all prosecutors seconded to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) from State security agencies with no law degrees, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi has told the National Assembly.
He made the disclosure after Zengeza West MDC MP Job Sikhala asked what was the government doing to deal with the problem of under-qualified people in the Judiciary.
This comes amid concern that over 50 percent of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) personnel — mostly seconded from the police, Air Force, army and prisons — are unqualified for their job, thereby compromising the justice delivery system.
“We now have an overwhelming number of qualified legal practitioners from our own local institutions like Midlands State University, University of Zimbabwe and also a supplement of other qualified legal practitioners from South African universities,” Sikhala said.
“What is the government policy over the phasing out of under qualified personnel who have been seconded to work in the Judicial Services Commission and also in the National Prosecuting Authority where we have under qualified soldiers and police officers who are working as prosecutors in our courts?
“What is the ministry’s policy over the issue of phasing out police officers and soldiers from our courts?”
Ziyambi said government would soon be demilitarising the NPA.
“I want to thank Sikhala for the question and indeed he is very correct. The NPA Act stipulates that all our law officers must have a degree and we are in the process of ensuring that we comply with that requirement of the NPA Act and very soon we will phase out all those who are under qualified from our establishment,” he said.
Sikhala demanded to know when government was going to fire the under qualified prosecutors. This comes amid disquiet over huge salary disparities between demoralised permanent prosecutors and those seconded from various security services including the army, Air Force, prisons and police who are on higher remuneration.
Ziyambi said he is waiting for the Finance minister to unfreeze recruitment of government staff before removing the seconded staff.
“We do not want to disturb the justice system. What we are doing is that we applied to Treasury so that we can be allocated posts and I am very happy that this year we got some posts that were allocated for prosecutors,” he said referring to the August recruitment of 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.
“So, progressively, as we fill in the posts, we will request that those that have been seconded should go back.
“We do not want to create a shortage when we have not been given posts. I acknowledge that we need to get rid of them. We have even encouraged those that are under qualified to go and upgrade their qualifications and join the Prosecution Unit since they are already there.
“So, for me to give a time frame, it is not dependent on me alone but it is also dependent on Treasury when they give us a full complement of the staff that we require.” DailyNews