HARARE – The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is struggling to get enough cash to bankroll its operations, acting Prosecutor General (PG) Ray Goba has said.
The NPA — responsible for instituting and undertaking criminal prosecutions on behalf of the State and discharging any functions that are necessary or incidental to such prosecutions — is a constitutional body ushered in with the advent of the new charter adopted in 2013.
It came into being in July 2014 after President Robert Mugabe signed the NPA Act into law, paving way for the operationalisation of the prosecuting authority which used to be part of the Attorney-General (AG)’s Office.
Goba said the agency had inherited the troubles of the AG’s criminal division, which used to be responsible for public prosecution before the establishment of the authority.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted that government was well aware that the NPA was facing a critical funding shortfall.
Speaking at the launch of the NPA strategic plan on Thursday, Goba said the authority needed to have its own building.
“Being a new institution, the NPA has inherited some of the disadvantages that the criminal division had, including, inadequate office space and facilities, lack of transport at all stations countrywide, insufficient office equipment and stationery and most importantly human resources,” he said.
“Currently, the NPA is dreadfully in arrears in terms of office rentals for its head office. I shall not disclose the figure in this forum. However, there is urgent need to clear those arrears, as the likely consequences are too ghastly to contemplate.”
Goba said the criminal division under the AG office was not an independent institution, but the establishment of the NPA ushered in a new era.
“Fundamentally, the NPA is an independent institution with exclusive responsibility of instituting and undertaking all public prosecutions on behalf of the state,” Goba said.
Mnangagwa — who is also the Justice minister — said they were hoping that development partners continue to support the authority’s programme to see the implementation of the five-year strategic plan.
“We as the executive acknowledge the difficult operating environment in which the NPA was weaned into. The NPA need financial resources to realise the goals set in this strategic plan.
“However, the NPA has endeavoured to set its foundation and fulfil its constitutional mandate despite the myriad of financial challenges it is facing,” Mnangagwa said.
“The government acknowledges with gratitude, the financial material and moral support that our development partners, notably, the European Union and the International Commission of Jurists have rendered in the development of the strategic plan and hope that they continue to support its implementation through concrete programmes.”
He also stressed the importance of the independence of the NPA.
“The NPA as established under section 258 of the Constitution as separate, independent and accountable institution responsible for instituting and undertaking criminal prosecutions on behalf of the State, promoting a just fair system for all persons approaching the courts and protecting the rights of the arrested and detained as provide for by the Constitution.
“It is therefore very important to underscore the importance and independence of this office, as it is not subject to the direction or control of anyone, hence the prosecutor general must exercise his or her functions impartially, without fear, favour, prejudice or bias.
“No one should influence this office and the office must not allow itself to be influenced by anyone in as far as their core business is concerned, that is, criminal prosecutions,” Mnangagwa said. – Daily News