Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Overhaul justice delivery system

‘Overhaul justice delivery system’

By Thelma Chikwanha, Staff Writer
Monday, 16 May 2011 16:19

HARARE – Human rights lawyers have called for an urgent overhaul of the 
country’s justice delivery system to stop the continuing abuse of the law by 
the Attorney General’s (AG) office, through the  inappropriate invocation of 
the notorious Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

The latest calls by the lawyers come amid mounting calls by political 
parties for security sector reforms.

The lawyers believe the AG’s office and the police have largely been 
partisan in the conduct of their duty by abusing the court process designed 
to persecute perceived anti-Zanu PF elements.

These fresh calls by the lawyers have been reignited by the recent arbitrary 
arrests of political activists and key MDC members since the beginning of 
the year on flimsy charges.

In February, 46 activists were arrested and charged with treason and 
subverting a constitutionally elected government after they were found 
viewing footage of the North African revolts.

The bulk of the activists were later released after the charges were dropped 
by the magistrate who said there was insufficient evidence to proceed to 

The other five — Munyaradzi Gwisai, Antoinette Choto, Tatenda Mombeyarara, 
Edson Chakuma and Hopewell Gumbo were subsequently charged with treason and 
are currently out on bail laced with stringent reporting conditions.

Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama told the Daily News that his clients would be 
facing lesser charges but he was not sure of the charges.

“The prosecutor said he was going to reduce the charges and then advise us 
in time to prepare for the trial,” Muchadehama said.

Muchadehama, who is also challenging section 121 in the case between the 
state and MDC official Toendepi Shonhe, said many accused persons went 
through trial without sufficient evidence.

“There is total abuse of the court process. People may actually be taken 
through the motions of a trial just to humiliate them,” Muchadehama said.

Director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) Irene Petras told 
Daily News that the section is denying Zimbabweans their right to protection 
by the law.

“Once section 121 has been invoked, the judge’s hands are tied. It is an 
ouster of the court’s jurisdiction where the prosecution is taking over the 
role of the judiciary. There is no separation of powers there,” Petras said.

“The appointment of an independent director of public prosecution appointed 
through a public process who can execute the duty without fear will take off 
the pressure on the judiciary which does not have tenure of security,” 
Petras said.

On the 21st of February 2011, MDC Spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora was arrested 
together with party activists and was charged with public violence.

The Copac co-chairperson spent 27 days in police custody after the state 
invoked the draconian section 121.

According to statistics released by ZLHR recently, over 89 Zimbabweans 
citizens have fallen victim to the notorious law.

The draconian law which backdates to 1898 has been used several times this 
year in cases involving Energy Minister Elton Mangoma, Mthwakazi Liberation 
Front Leaders, John Gazi, Charles Thomas and Paul Siwela.


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