Home » Legal and Judicial Affairs » AG Laments Slashing of Allowances

The Attorney-General’s Office yesterday lamented Government’s decision to slash allowances for law officers and other judicial officers saying morale was low as their earnings were not consistent with the huge work they do which in some cases involved multimillion- dollar projects and cases.

Government stopped paying monthly skills retention allowances of between US$150 and US$400 to magistrates, law officers, prosecutors and other legal officers in various ministries and departments late last year.

Deputy Attorney-General responsible for Legal Aice Mr Kumbirai Hodzi said the slashing of allowances had aersely affected conditions of service and Government risked losing competent officers to the private sector which paid double if not more than what they earned in the civil service.

Mr Hodzi, who was accompanied by Deputy Attorney-General responsible for Legislative Drafting Mr Nelson Dias, was giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

The committee, chaired by Harare West MP Ms Jessie Majome (MDC-T), had asked what effect the slashing of salaries had had on law officers.

“These are lawyers dealing with high cases of millions of dollars.

“These are persons whom you consult when you are buying massive infrastructure. They appear before the Constitutional Court. The matter must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” said Mr Hodzi.

“They spend their time preparing cases and when you look at their salaries there is no relationship with the work they do.”

Masvingo Urban MP Dr Daniel Shumba (Zanu-PF) asked if the AG’s Office had aised Government on the implications.

“We were not consulted. We have written a letter.

“We have raised it and everyone is aware of it,” said Mr Hodzi.

He said Government was spending a fortune in training these lawyers and it would be unfortunate for it to lose them to private firms. On alignment of laws, Mr Dias said the process was now at an aanced stage. He said the alignment would come mainly as an omnibus Bill containing about 400 amendments in the form of General Laws and Amendment Bills.

He said there had been eight or 10 contentious Bills but that had since been resolved. Legislators expressed concern at the pace the alignment process was taking. But Mr Dias said the process was complex hence the delay.

Asked by Ms Majome if Government was not in breach of the Constitution by the delay, Mr Hodzi said it was not, stressing that all Government ministries and departments were anxious to have the laws that fall within their jurisdiction aligned with the new Constitution.

“There is this hunger or anxiety by all Government departments to adhere to the Constitution. They are quite keen to implement any decision that would make them compliant with the Constitution,” said Mr Hodzi.

The committee also wanted to know if the absence of a substantive Attorney- General was not affecting work.

“There is no vacuum or (lack of) continuity because the Prosecutor-General is the Acting Attorney-General, principally attending Cabinet and Parliament,” said Mr Dias.

Source : The Herald