HARARE – Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi resigned on Tuesday citing poor health, but sources said he had been under pressure to quit or be forced out.
Hodzi was controversially appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in November 2019 after coming last of six candidates interviewed for the position.
Cabinet secretary Misheck Sibanda said Mnangagwa had received Hodzi’s resignation “with regret” adding: “His resignation has come about due to ill health requiring medical attention. In the light of this, President Mnangagwa has accepted the resignation.”
Sources told ZimLive that Hodzi had fallen out with the permanent secretary in the justice ministry Virginia Mabhiza after an incident last year when an emergency meeting had to be called to discuss rumours that he had ordered her arrest, the reasons for which were not clear. When confronted, Hodzi vehemently denied making such moves.
Perceptions that he was incompetent and rampant corruption among prosecutors added to the insecurity of his position.
“He has some medical issues for sure, it’s not unusual to call his office and be told he’s off sick, but this has much to do with a fallout with Mabhiza which refused to heal,” a source in the National Prosecuting Authority said.
Removing Hodzi would have required the appointment of a tribunal – a fate that befell three of his last four predecessors in Sobusa Gula Ndebele, Johannes Tomana and Ray Goba. Andrew Chigovera, Zimbabwe’s top prosecutor between 2000 and 2003, was allegedly forced to retire.
In March last year, Justice Tawanda Chitapi launched a blistering attack on Hodzi, suggesting he should go back to law school.
Hodzi had filed an appeal against a High Court decision granting suspected armed robber Musa Taj Abdul bail, arguing that the prosecutor who consented to bail had no authority to do so.
Justice Chitapi said Hodzi should “familiarise his office with important judgements of this court and the Supreme Court on key operational areas of law like bail generally” in a stinging rebuke.
As Prosecutor General, Hodzi also oversaw the prosecution of dozens of leading opposition activists on what critics said were trumped up charges.