Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa faces another reversal on his political career after a red flag was raised over the appointment of Ray Goba as the new prosecutor-general (PG) amid indications the process will be reversed.
Goba’s “appointment” was announced in an extra-ordinary Government Gazette last Wednesday, which was signed by chief secretary to the president and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda, but in a shock turn of events, impeccable sources yesterday said the move was “irregular and unauthorised”.
The sources said the appointment was “null and void”, signalling that the process would be reversed.
Mnangagwa, who is in charge of the Justice ministry, now faces the embarrassment of having to clean up the mess surrounding Goba’s appointment at a time he is being accused of trying to capture state institutions in the acrimonious battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Sibanda was not reachable for comment yesterday and a woman who answered his phone directed questions to Mugabe’s spokesperson, George Charamba.
The woman refused to relent even after she was told that the questions concerned Sibanda as an individual.
Goba initially asked this reporter to call him after 40 minutes as he was driving, but did not answer his phone several times afterwards.
However, impeccable sources insisted that Goba’s appointment now hung in the balance after Sibanda’s alleged blunder. The senior civil servant was accused of “jumping the gun”.
The sources claimed questions were now being asked about the integrity of the process leading to the appointment of Johannes Tomana’s successor.
“It is alleged that there was manipulation and doctoring of the JSC [Judicial Services Commission] recommendations leading to the hurried gazetting of Goba’s name without the usual security clearance required in such high-profile constitutional appointments,” the source said.
“The security clearances are done by the Central Intelligence Organisation.”
Goba’s candidacy attracted controversy after questions were raised about his previous conviction in Namibia.
He could also be a victim of intensifying factional wars in Zanu PF fuelled by Mugabe’s succession.
However, Virginia Mabhiza, the permanent secretary in the Justice ministry said she was not aware of an order to reverse Goba’s appointment.
“I haven’t heard anything like that except for some newspaper reports that the three candidates listed by the Judicial Services Commission for the president to choose from did not score high marks,” she said yesterday.
“All I know is the JSC cited him. I was with my boss [Mnangagwa] today at Great Zimbabwe and he did not mention anything about that.”
She defended the selection process that saw Goba being picked for the top post. Mabhiza said the process was done according to the law.
“This involves public interviews and the shortlisting of three candidates by the JSC and the writing of the Cabinet minutes by Mnangagwa that was approved by Mugabe before the gazette was published,” she added.
Mabhiza played down reports that Goba had not received his appointment letter, saying it was just a formality since his appointment had been gazetted.
JSC executive secretary Justice Rita Makarau refused to comment on the matter, saying she was not allowed to do so.
Although Goba claims that his conviction confirmed by the Namibia Supreme Court cannot stop him from being appointed prosecutor general, the issue continues to haunt him.
During the public interviews, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who chaired the interviewing panel, chided Goba for taking the conviction lightly and presenting it as a traffic offence when in fact it was about obstruction of justice.
Sources also claimed Goba was not on the initial list of the three names shortlisted by the JSC.
Controversy also surrounded the selection of the chief justice early this year after Mnangagwa was accused by his G40 rivals of trying to influence the process.