Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
Government is retooling the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to deliver its mandate, as the anti-corruption drive gathers momentum.
Treasury approved the recruitment of 291 prosecutors, while 50 service vehicles, computers, printers, office furniture, photocopiers and other gadgets have been bought.
Thirty prosecutors are set to leave for India and Italy this year for special training in forensics and prosecution of organised crimes and corruption.
This comes at a time when the Government has been training judges and prosecutors on how to handle corruption cases.
Treasury recently approved the NPA’s special $87 million budget to procure a city building for offices and acquired land for the construction of an NPA head office in Mt Hampden.
The authority has been operating a fleet of ramshackle vehicles bought 13 years ago under a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) scheme.
The vehicles include Isuzu KB300 trucks, Mitsubishi L200 single cabs, BAW Rhino Cams and only five are still on the road.
There has also been an acute shortage of prosecutors countrywide, forcing the NPA to enlist the services of police, prisons and army prosecutors to beef up staff.
The office has over the years been hard-hit by resource challenges resulting in some prosecutors using their money to photocopy State papers at private shops to ensure smooth flow of criminal cases.
The authority’s challenges made headlines over the years, with their landlord at Corner House in Harare threatening it with eviction over unpaid rent.
But there appears to be some changes as 17 Isuzu trucks have been bought on the NPA budget and now await registration before being allocated to officers.
However, 50 others are yet to be bought to ensure every station has a vehicle for operations.
The NPA secretariat is negotiating with property owners amid reports that a six-storey building has been identified in the central business district (CBD).
Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi confirmed the developments, saying this enabled NPA to effectively fight corruption.
“We have obtained Treasury concurrence to employ 291 prosecutors and to purchase a building of our own to use as an NPA office.
“We also got a special budget to enable us to purchase 50 cars for use in the fight against corruption. All the 50 vehicles, if bought will go for operations to ensure we run around and fight graft.
“Our stations do not have vehicles and the recent development will see each station having a good car for use,” said Mr Hodzi.
“It is encouraging that our leadership is committed to fighting corruption. I met President Mnangagwa with the agenda of ring-fencing our corruption-fighters and improving their welfare.
“He showed great commitment and offered to assist in the capacitation of the NPA. I also met Vice President Chiwenga recently when he was Acting President, and he also threw his weight behind our fight against graft.
“VP (Kembo) Mohadi, separately, expressed interest and pledged to render support to the office, during the time he also acted as the country’s President.
“With the support of the Presidium, we will win the fight against corruption. It is now up to us, to put the necessary measures to ensure we nip the scourge in the bud,” said Mr Hodzi.
The NPA boss said his office had been strategising to fight corruption cartels.
He said in November, the NPA top hierarchy, including the PG, was placed on a three-month probationary period to produce tangible results before being reconfirmed to their leadership posts.
“It is no longer business as usual at the NPA. We are all on probation and we are obliged to produce good results in the fight against corruption.
“We have not been sleeping all along. We were strategising and no one went on leave in December. We did not go on holiday because we were strategising on how best we can win the fight,” he said.
Prosecutorial teams have been put in place in all high-profile corruption cases where six officers from the NPA, police, ZACC and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (SACU) will be involved.
That started with the Mupfumira court case at the Harare Magistrate’s Court last week where representatives from the listed stakeholders attended the court cases with four prosecutors on the bar.
Mr Hodzi said his office had intensively lobbied with cooperating partners who have agreed to train prosecutors in anti-corruption and other special areas of prosecution.
“Our cooperating partners have offered to send out at least six of our prosecutors to India for training in forensics, that is attending scenes of crime, criminology, wildlife forensics among other courses.
“They are also helping us in setting up a wildlife laboratory for the NPA,” said Mr Hodzi.
Mr said six other prosecutors will soon leave for India for training in organised crimes.
“We deliberately lobbied for technical assistance from Italy through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The deputy Attorney-General of Italy came to Zimbabwe end of last year and we had meetings.
“They have agreed to have prosecutors seconded to Italy for training in the area of organised crimes.
“We want to send about six prosecutors to Italy for about six months to one year, in batches,” he said.
The United Nations Office and Drugs and Crime (UNODC), according to Mr Hodzi, has also agreed to provide Zimbabwean prosecutors with technical support and to facilitate their training in areas of stolen assets recovery.
He said the first batch of eight officers will be leaving the country soon.