President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been caught offside yet again after he created a Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) in his office dismissed by legal experts as a nullity because it has no legal basis.
In a statement issued on Monday, the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, said the unit would be housed in Mnangagwa’s office.
“The overall objectives of the unit shall be — to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of corruption and to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the national mechanisms for the prevention and fight against corruption in accordance with the anti-corruption strategy,” said Sibanda.
“The members of the unit will be announced in due course,” added Sibanda.
But legal experts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said the declaration was in breach of the country’s laws as there was no legal authority allowing him to interfere with the prosecution authority, which lies in the Prosecutor General (PG).
Tinoziva Bere, a legal expert, cautioned against the creation of parallel structures, saying Mnangagwa must make use of existing policing, investigating, advisory and prosecuting arms of the Executive.
“There is only one PG. The president has no power to appoint a set of prosecutors answerable to him or his office. The president directs the army to defend the country; the Executive investigate through the police, the Attorney General (AG) advises government, the PG prosecutes independently; the lawyers defend and courts adjudicate,” he said.
“This is elementary constitutional law. If the PG has failed, the Constitution has provisions for his removal and replacement. The president cannot lawfully set up and or run unlawful parallel structures,” opined Bere.
After he came to power following a military takeover of government last November, Mnangagwa declared war on corruption.
But critics dismiss his abhorrence for corruption as all froth and no beer because the blitzkrieg has not nailed a single person thus far, and is being perceived as targeting those who resisted his ascendance to power.
Mnangagwa himself has not hidden his displeasure with the lack of teeth demonstrated by those tasked with fighting graft.