HARARE – Karma is a bi**h. And a week is a long time in politics.
Just last week, de-stooled Prosecutor-General Ray Goba, abused and insulted a Daily News journalist inquiring into Victory World International Ministries Church leader Paul Sanyangore’s rape charges after a congregant reported a sexual battery case against him in June this year.
Goba got unreasonably infuriated over a very politely asked question about the National Prosecuting Authority’s probe into the case and progress in the matter, and hurled abuses at our illustrious court reporter Tarisai Machakaire.
“To respond to cases being handled by NPA is simply not my job,” Goba said arrogantly, before banging the phone.
He had absolutely no right to humiliate a respectable journalist in the course of her duties. We had in our morning conference noted that it was unfortunate for the government to deploy such arrogant and disrespectful officers at the important positions where public dealing, including with the Press, was involved.
As the Holy book, in Proverbs 16:18, says: “Pride comes before a fall” — when we are too self-important or conceited, something is sure to happen to make us look foolish.
Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, and Shakespeare, to name a few, have warned against this age-old character flaw. As history illustrates, the consequences of pride for prosecutor-generals, kings, military commanders, sitting presidents — and indeed nations — can be devastating.
For starters, Goba’s suitability for office has always been in question because of his criminal record in Namibia over road rules violations where he was also declared a prohibited immigrant, while he worked there as deputy prosecutor-general and legal services director until six years ago.
This left President Robert Mugabe in an odious position as the PG’s job requires integrity and outlaws recruitment of an incumbent with a criminal record.
Goba should have expunged his criminal charges from his record in Namibia before heading back to Zimbabwe.
Namibia allows expungement if an Order of Supervision is entered and five years have passed since termination for cases such as retail theft, reckless driving, driving an uninsured motorist, displaying false insurance charges.
Goba’s appointment was a dog’s breakfast right from the beginning. It boggles the mind why he was shortlisted for interviews by the Judicial Services Commission in the first place when his criminal record clearly disqualified him.
The new Constitution of Zimbabwe sets out a clear procedure for the appointment of a PG. It includes advertising the post, allowing public nominations, and requiring public interviews of prospective candidates.
This was meant to enhance the transparency of the appointment process, whilst contributing to ensuring the credibility and professionalism of the nominees through scrutiny of their record of service and past conduct.
After the interviews, the members of the JSC, fully aware of Goba’s criminal record, curiously decided on a list of three nominees and forwarded the list of Goba, Misheck Hogwe and Wilson Manase to Mugabe who then made his appointment from the list.
Goba was then substantively appointed by the president through a hurried extraordinary Government gazette — issued on a Wednesday — on the advice of the JSC following the procedure for the appointment of a judge.
Now Mugabe has made a volte face reportedly under pressure from an influential Zanu PF faction, G40, and now claims he considers that no-one on the list is suitable, and has called on the commission to produce a second list and must make the appointment from that list.
Curiously, Goba totally changed his demeanour on Friday when the Daily News reached him for comment on his de-stooling, with the pride gone. Crestfallen, he said he was mulling 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.
We harbour no ill feeling towards Goba, and yesterday we reported that the removal of a PG must follow the procedure laid down by the Constitution for the removal of judges, including convening a tribunal. During his six-year term of office, the PG has security of tenure and independence equivalent to a judge’s.
We were the target of Goba’s narcissistic abuse, and here we are asserting his rights.
We hope he learns a critical lesson from this — pride comes before a fall.