ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) lawyer Innocent Gonese of Lawman Law Chambers (LLC) has written to Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Commissioner-General Moses Chihobvu demanding action over the misconduct of ZPCS officer Caroline Manjongo, who has taken up a Zanu PF political post in violation of the constitution.
As exposed by The NewsHawks last week, Majongo is serving as the vice-chairperson of Zanu PF Women’s League in Mashonaland East Province, in violation of section 208 of the constitution. The constitution expressly bars members of the security forces from holding political positions or furthering the interests of any political party.
The constitution also bars security forces — listed in section 207 as defence forces, police service, intelligence service and prisons and correctional service — from conducting themselves in a partisan manner.
LLC, acting on behalf of a concerned citizen Takudzwanashe Mudzuri – a legal practitioner – has issued the ZPCS a three-day ultimatum to provide a written response on what action will be taken against Manjongo.
The lawyers say they will take legal action in the event that the ZPCS does not take action.
Citing section 208 of the constitution, the lawyers said: “We write to you at the instance of Takudzwanashe Mudzuri who is a citizen of Zimbabwe… regarding the misconduct and violation of the constitution by prison officer Caroline Manjongo and the Zanu PF party.
“… (2) Neither the security forces nor any of their members in the exercise of their functions (b) further the interests of any political party or cause;
“… (3) Members of the security services must not be active members or office-bearers of any political party or organisation.”
The lawyers said their client and right-thinking Zimbabweans were perturbed and disturbed by “this brazen and arrogant disdain” of the constitution by the prison officer and Zanu PF.
“We therefore demand a written response in a period of three days indicating what course of action will be taken, failure which our institutions are to institute appropriate legal proceedings to seek redress,” read the letter which was also copied to Justice, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe, the permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza, the Public Service Commission and chief director human resources and development Walter Mupandawana.
As reported by The NewsHawks, Zanu PF and war veterans wrote letters requesting the ZPCS to release Manjongo to enable her to campaign for Zanu PF ahead of the 23 August general elections.
In the first letter, dated 30 May 2023, Mashonaland East secretary for security Jeremiah Chiwetu, a former police officer, wrote to the ZPCS chief director human resources administration and development, Commissioner Alvord Gapare, requesting Majongo’s release.
The letter revealed that Majongo is serving as the Mashonaland East Zanu PF women’s league deputy secretary, which would be a violation of the constitution.
Chiwetu, who is also Marondera East legislator, requested that Majongo be given time off to help organise the party ahead of the elections.
Another letter dated 31 May 2023, written by retired Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Makureya, the secretary for administration for the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association in Harare, said Majongo will be on national duty.
The letter was addressed to Gapare.
“Requested is the release from duty of the above referred Zanu PF cadre who is the vice chairwoman Women’s League for the period as from 1 June 2023 up to end of elections.
“She will be carrying out national duty involved in the Party Voter Mobilisation Programmes. Your assistance by releasing her for this noble cause will be much appreciated,” Makureya, who is secretary for administration, wrote to Gapare.