Tomana not fit for purpose

LONDON - In any civilised society, Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana would have, of his own accord, resigned or been sacked.

It is not surprising that his comments which seemed to condone child marriages would have, to use an exclusively Zimbabwean media lexical invention, “torched a storm”.

Tomana is the prosecutor-in-chief who is supposed to protect the most vulnerable, not least, girl children against adult malevolence.

His desperate climb-down now, sounds hollow: the recording of the interview he enjoins us to listen to before nailing him to the cross does little to absolve him.

It is obvious from listening to Tomana that he is terribly inarticulate — a quality that any lawyer, not least the most senior prosecutor, should possess.

But his sentiments can be comprehended: girls under the age of 12 can consent to sex; the male adult perpetrators should not be condemned outright and that these girl minors could benefit economically from eventual marriage.

Tomana should have handed in his resignation letter or President Robert Mugabe should fire him.

His interviews after this faux pas have barely been intelligible: he can barely string together coherent sentences.

Tomana’s indiscretion betrays his curious appointment. In a country full of competent lawyers, his appointment was as puzzling as Brazil, a nation of talented footballers, having a stiff-legged bloke called Fred as its chief striker.

Tomana only came to public notice when he represented information minister Jonathan Moyo in a number of cases.

He was Moyo’s lawyer in a lawsuit against a certain newspaper, and when the former minister challenged an order for him to leave a government property in two weeks following his sacking for standing as an independent in 2005.

In an appointment seen to have been against the spirit of the agreement establishing a coalition government with the MDCs, Mugabe, without consulting his partners, installed Tomana as Attorney-General in 2008, just before the formation of the joint administration.

And for the duration of the coalition government, Tomana, along with the then Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, was listed as an “outstanding issue” — a phrase that became popular at the time to denote appointments and issues contested by the MDCs.

Tomana seemed to vindicate MDCs’ concerns through his declaration of allegiance to Zanu PF and the predilection to prosecute members of the former opposition.

In November 2013, he was appointed the new Prosecutor-General, a position created under the new constitution.

His refusal to issue a certificate for the prosecution of Zanu PF MP for Bikita West Munyaradzi Kereke for the alleged rape of an 11-year-old girl at gunpoint could now be seen in the context of his recent comments.

Tomana, as the government’s chief legal advisor then, also bears a share of responsibility for the frivolous lawsuit against the European Union over sanctions.

Instructing two British QCs (advocates), two barristers, and two Zimbabwean lawyers, the bill for this misadventure would have run into millions although it was claimed the suit was funded by unnamed “friends of Zimbabwe”.

Yet it was clear to anyone with the basic knowledge of the law of international organisations that regional bodies such as the African Union or the EU have separate legal personality, and therefore can exercise the exclusive right to impose sanctions as stipulated in their founding documents without recourse to the UN.

Ultimately, the outcome of the litigation — the general court dismissed the case in April — was a political disaster for Zanu PF as it put paid to its convenient mantra that the EU sanctions were illegal.

The subtext of Tomana’s recent comments on child marriages — the subject of the current wave of opprobrium — is the unmeritorious appointments to government positions.

Tomana says he serves at the pleasure of the president. His recent remarks, therefore, put Mugabe’s “pleasure” to test.

Tomana is clearly unfit for purpose; the Fred of law — not good for Zanu PF, the country or our girl children.

 

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