Opposition parties and members of Zimbabwe's legal community are urging Prosecutor General Johannes Tomana to resign after he was slapped with a 30-day jail sentence for refusing to prosecute two cases, one of which involves the alleged rape of a minor by a top ruling party lawmaker.
Tomana also ignored court orders seeking private prosecutions for a businesswoman accused of stealing airtime vouchers worth over $1.7 million from Telecel, one of the country’s cellular phone networks.
He has repeatedly defied calls to prosecute the cases despite protests, claiming there was a lack of evidence.
But in an unprecedented ruling, the full constitutional court ordered Tomana to be jailed for defying the law he is supposed to uphold. He has 10 days to appeal the court’s ruling.
Attorney Charles Warara, a member-lawyer of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights group representing the child allegedly raped by ZANU PF member Munyaradzi Kereke, told VOA’s Zimbabwe service that the ruling was significant.
Obert Gutu, spokesman for the opposition MDC-T party, told VOA’s Zimbabwe service that his party was concerned and saddened by the prosecutor general’s actions.
But he added that the prosecutor general's actions also vindicated his party, which had previously complained about Tomana’s alleged lack of professionalism. “Tomana has humiliated himself, and if I was him I would hand in my resignation,” he said.
Political analyst Nhlanhla Dube said the Tomana case was "symptomatic of the problems we’ve got in the country — the lack of separation between state institutions and the ruling political party.”
Gutu said that he and others had appealed to the Law Society of Zimbabwe, which indicated that it was exploring ways to force Tomana to resign.
Tomana, thought to be a key ally of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, was believed to be in Russia on official government business, and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.