By Andrew Kunambura
FORMER Prosecutor General Kumbirai Hodzi was hounded by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and senior officials from the Justice ministry following the submission of a dossier accusing him of corruption and incompetence and left him so depressed he developed serious mental health complications before suffering two strokes last week, newZimbabwe.com can exclusively report.
The OPC announced Tuesday that Hodzi resigned with immediate effect due to ill health but did not give details.
“It is with regret that I announce the resignation of Honourable Kumbirai Hodzi as Prosecutor General. His resignation has come about due to ill health requiring medical attention,” the OPC said.
NewZimbabwe.com can now exclusively reveal that he had been under immense pressure since December last year when the dossier, containing information obtained from his subordinates in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Judicial Service Commission and lawyers, accused him of gross incompetence and sleaze.
Multiple official and security sources told NewZimbabwe.com on Wednesday that the pressure left Hodzi suffering severe depression which saw his mental and physical health sharply deteriorating.
Sources further said Hodzi was being tormented by senior officials from the Ministry of Justice.
The sources said he stopped coming to work in the second week of February after his health took a knock and he started showing signs of mental ill health.
“What actually happened is that some time in December, a dossier highly critical of his performance as PG was submitted to the OPC and he has been under great pressure since then,” a source said.
“This document was produced anonymously from information gathered from the NPA officials and the legal fraternity. Even judges and magistrates are said to have contributed. There were also allegations of corruption against him and the OPC has been on his case since then. The main issue was that of incompetence and questions regarding his fitness for office,” the source added.
“So it really took a toll on his mental and physical health, to the extent that he could at times be seen talking to himself at work, which led to rumours within the corridors that he had lost his mind throughout this period. It got really worse towards the end of January and, by the second week, he could not come to work,” the source further said.
Another source said: “About two weeks ago, he was seen walking along a street in Borrowdale carrying a bucketful of water on his head around midnight, talking to himself loudly. You could clearly tell he had lost it.”
“And then he suffered two major strokes last week alone which left him completely indisposed. So he is in a very bad shape right now,” the source said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not be reached for comment, with calls on his two mobile numbers going unanswered.
Hodzi became PG following a highly controversial selection process in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa rejected three front runners who had aced public interviews for the job in 2019.
Following the completion of public interviews, the JSC submitted the names of the top three performers to Mnangagwa for consideration as required by law, with former principal law officer Calvin Mantsebo topping the list of 10 candidates.
Former student activist Tinomudaishe Chinyoka and ex-president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Misheck Hogwe came second and third respectively.
The other seven participants were: Kumbirai Hodzi, the current acting prosecutor-general, former deputy prosecutor-general Florence Ziyambi, former legislator Jessie Majome, former Bulawayo High Court judge Maphios Cheda, former principal law officer in the Ministry of Justice Noria Mashumba, as well as Harare lawyers Edmund Marondedze and Wendy Chingeya.
Mnangagwa rejected the three and called for new names. The JSC then submitted the names of Maphios Cheda, who had come fourth in the interviews after scoring 65% along with former MDC legislator Fungai Jessie Majome and Hodzi who both got 53% and were tied on fifth position.
Mnangagwa then appointed Hodzi.
But the glaring legal deficiencies in him would be exposed later, with High Court Justice Tawanda Chitapi telling him to go back to the law school and familiarise himself with the country’s statutes after he spectacularly bungled a bail appeal in a high-profile robbery case.
Justice Chitapi said this while dismissing Hodzi’s appeal against bail granted to suspected notorious armed robber, Musa Taj Abdul, his accomplices Rudolph Tapiwa Kanhanga and Godfrey Mupamhanga. The trio was granted bail by High Court judge Benjamin Chikowero last December.
Justice Chitapi said he was taken aback by Hodzi’s failure to comprehend legal fundamentals when making an appeal.
He also said it had worryingly become the norm for officials at the NPA to rush to the courts armed with poor applications.
Justice Chitapi upheld Justice Chikowero’s ruling.
“The applicant is advised to familiarise his office with important judgments of this court and the Supreme Court on key operational areas of law like bail generally. I have no doubt that the applicant may well have been advised not to mount this unmeritorious application,” Justice Chitapi said.
“Having commented adversely on the ineptitude shown in the handling of this application, the comments being an aside, I determine that having taken account all the documents filed of record and heard counsel in argument, there is no merit in this application at all. Resultantly, the application is dismissed.”