HARARE – Ray Goba has been shown the door as the country’s Prosecutor-General (PG), barely two months after assuming the high-profile position.
President Robert Mugabe rescinded Goba’s confirmation as PG yesterday, in a move seen as a direct attack on Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who presided over his appointment in his previous capacity as Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister.
Mnangagwa lost the Justice ministry to former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general Happyton Bonyongwe about three weeks ago.
In that shock Cabinet reshuffle by Mugabe, some of the vice president’s allies lost their jobs, while others were either re-assigned to less influential ministries or had their powers trimmed.
Having lost the Justice portfolio, it would appear that some of his decisions are being revisited.
Goba was still to be sworn in when Mugabe pulled the trigger, obviously in consultation with Bonyongwe.
Seen as sympathetic to the under-fire vice president, Goba’s appointment on September 13 had stoked controversy.
Goba, who once served as Namibia’s deputy PG, was in 2002 convicted of drunk driving in that country and failing to obey a road traffic sign as well as attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
The conviction forced the Namibian government to deny him a work and residence permit in 2011.
Goba challenged the ministry’s decision in court but lost.
He appeared to be back on track after he was part of eight candidates interviewed in public by the Judicial Service Commission on August 21 for appointment as Zimbabwe’s second PG.
His name was among a shortlist of three candidates who excelled in those interviews who included Wilson Manase and Misheck Hogwe.
During the public interviews, Goba was grilled over his conviction.
He did not deny the conviction, which he described as unfortunate, claiming the matter was irrationally dealt with, leading to the conviction.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who was among the panel of interviewers, suggested Goba seemed to treat the offence lightly.
“Every offence is serious, but it should be considered against the background and circumstances . . . It’s a blot on a white piece of paper,” the new PG defended himself then.
His conviction in Namibia became a shackle around his neck.
Goba’s dismissal was announced in yesterday’s extraordinary gazette signed by the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, who ironically had issued the previous gazette confirming his appointment.
Sibanda is an alleged ally of Mnangagwa.
The notice effectively revoked the previous general notice that brought Goba into office.
Reads the gazette: “Repeal of the General Notice 493 of 2017 concerning the appointment of the Prosecutor-General of Zimbabwe. It is hereby notified that the captioned general notice that was published in the gazette Extraordinary on the 13th September, 2017 is repealed.”
Goba yesterday said he was considering taking legal action.
“The matter is under advisement and I am taking guidance from counsel. Naturally, I will assert all rights in terms of the Constitution and all laws,” he told the Daily News.
Constitutional experts maintain that the initial gazetting was a confirmation that Goba had satisfied the requirements of the Constitution and he could only be removed from office for gross incompetence.
Goba had already started instituting changes to the PG’s office and setting conditions for staff recruitment.
Former deputy minister of Justice and MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News yesterday that Goba had become the latest victim of factionalism devouring Zanu PF.
He said his dismissal was a manifestation of Zanu PF factional politics, adding that because Goba had not been formally sworn into office, technically he was not yet the PG.
“Of course, something very fishy is taking place here because Goba’s appointment as PG was gazetted some few weeks ago. Does it therefore mean that the gazetting had been done without Mugabe’s knowledge?” he queried.
“There are certainly more questions than answers. Be that as it may, the whole transaction has been marred in serious controversy. It’s an extremely messy affair. This just goes to show that the factional differences within the Zanu PF regime are so deeply rooted that they might actually threaten national security.”
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku had earlier told the Daily News that any attempt by Mugabe to remove Goba from the post would be a breach of the Constitution and “if the president feels he made a mistake, he has to swallow his pride and learn to live with his mistake.”
“The president has already exercised that function . . . and he cannot stand in the way of the person he has appointed. I don’t see him doing that,” he had said.
Goba had been appointed to the position, after serving a year in the job on an interim basis — following the suspension and subsequent sacking of his predecessor, Johannes Tomana.
His appointment was fiercely contested by factions of the brawling ruling Zanu PF.
Goba is a Zimbabwean lawyer.
He was appointed the acting Attorney-General after Tomana was suspended.
He was the deputy Prosecutor-General in Namibia from 1998 to December 31, 2010 before he was dismissed after the country’s Home Affairs ministry refused to give him a work permit.
He had been released from the Zimbabwean Justice ministry on secondment and offered a two-year contract by the Namibian government.
Goba was sworn in as the acting PG on July 7, 2016.