Advocate Lewis Uriri who was President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s lead counsel at the Constitutional Court hearing on the presidential challenge has said that the establishment of a special anti-corruption prosecution unit by President Emmerson Mnangagwa was illegal and an abuse of power. Uriri made the submissions while defending suspended University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura at the Harare Magistrate’s court. Uriri asked for the matter to be referred to the Constitutional Court. Said Uriri,
These prosecutors take instruction from the State President. They do not report to Prosecutor-General. The President woke up one morning and said I am putting a commission or a special unit, that is fundamentally a breach of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It is an abuse of power for other purposes not known to us. If there is going to be a conferment of prosecutors who are not from the Prosecution Authority, such power must be by Act of Parliament.”
These learned colleagues are subject to control by the Office of the President. The role of public prosecutor lies at the centre of the constitutional right to a fair trial. If they are employed by the Office of the President, are they going to be fair…Prosecutorial independence lies at the heart to constitutional right to a fair trial. The public prosecutor is intended by the Constitution to be independent, impartial and not subject to the direct or control of someone.
Magistrate Lanzini Ncube postponed the matter to today for ruling. Nyagura is facing allegations of criminal abuse of office charge for awarding former first lady Grace Mugabe a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree from the UZ’s Faculty of Social Studies Department of Sociology in controversial circumstances in 2014.
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