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Attorney General sets up WikiLeaks probe panel
By: TSM-TZG Posted: Monday, January 17, 2011 3:58 am Email Print
Rhodesia Tsvangirai

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ZIMBABWE's Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, has set up a highpowered independent panel of legal experts to assess whether any of the more than 3,000 US diplomatic cables in the custody of the WikiLeaks website reveal any breach of Zimbabwe's laws.
ZImbabwe's Attorney General, Johannes Tomana

The AG said this was not a Commission of Inquiry as only President Mugabe can set up such a commission, under Zimbabwe's laws.

The AG can, however, set up a panel of legal experts; not a Commission. “This is not a Commission of Inquiry, but a panel of experts whose recommendations will inform me whether to prosecute anyone or not. I don't have the mandate to set up a Commission of Inquiry," the AG told the weekly Sunday Mail newspaper. “My job doesn't need the creation of a Commission of Inquiry. If offenders commit a crime, it doesn't take the President to set up a Commission of Inquiry," he added. Article continues below

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“The relevant authorities should act and, as AG, I am taking the first step to establish whether there is a prima facie to cause a formal investigation by police." The panel will make recommendations that could lead to the prosecution of those involved in discussions with US embassy staff in Harare, Zimbabwe. The five-member panel, consisting of some of the country's top legal minds, is already at work but cannot be named due to the sensitivities around the cables, some of which, it is feared, may have harmed the country's national security.[1/16/2011 11:58:29 PM]

The Zimbabwe Guardian

The panel can also not be named to protect its professional integrity and to assure its independence. AG Tomana last Friday told the weekly that he had already communicated with the members of the panel and they are already busy at work. “I have invoked Section 76 Sub-section 5 of the Constitution and the panel is already in place. It consists of five top practising lawyers who are members of the Law Society of Zimbabwe. “I am seeking a professional legal opinion from registered lawyers to see whether there is need to prosecute anyone following revelations by the WikiLeaks website. “People should understand that this is a serious matter and these experts should be accorded the right to work privately. After their recommendations, I will then decide whether there is need to open a docket against anyone,” said the Attorney General. He said he expected the panel to give him the first report by the end of March, although the experts will work until the assessment of the more than 3,000 cables on Zimbabwe. The focus of the panel will not only be restricted to the 3 000 cables on Zimbabwe but will also cover even cables from other countries around the world that dealt with Zimbabwe like Morocco, South Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and China. One of the crucial matters the panel will look into is the sanctions issue, where politicians, businesspeople, non-governmental organisations and some media houses collaborated with hostile foreign governments and institutions threatening the country’s national interest. One member of the panel told The Sunday Mail that their duty is to assess whether any current statutes were violated and to recommend prosecution or not. “The fact that there has been these WikiLeaks revelations and no prosecution has been done so far doesn't mean that no crime was committed. "We will try to see where the law was violated and where we think that the law is inadequate, we will make recommendations and where there is a vacuum, we will also suggest how to tighten our laws,” said a member of the panel to TSM. It is understood that the panel will work with ICT technical experts and will not wait for the cables to be released but access them even if they are not released. The first report is likely to deal with the cables that have been released already. The AG’s action comes at a time when most governments around the world have instituted the same measures to assess the impact of the WikiLeaks revelations. In the US, the Attorney-General is looking at the threat posed by the cables while the US Congress has set a motion for investigating WikiLeaks to see if enough was done to protect American interests. “Zimbabwe is among the top 10 in terms of the numbers of the cables and it would be foolish for the Government not to institute measures for prosecution considering that most affected countries are doing the same,” said a lecturer from the UZ legal department. American embassy cables leaked by the WikiLeaks website have revealed US policy on different countries. In one of the cables dated July 13 2007, former American Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Christopher Dell confirms that his government has been working with the MDC-T to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. He said the party was not an ideal conduit as it lacked able leaders. He, however, added that although its leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, needed “massive hand-holding”, he was useful for American purposes in the country. The cable also revealed that Mr Tsvangirai would appear to be against the Westernimposed sanctions against Zimbabwe, but back the same embargo in private meetings. In another cable, a Zanu-PF official identified as Mudarikwa was said to have told US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Charles Ray that his party “was holding together because of the threat of MDC-T and foreign pressure”. Ad b G l[1/16/2011 11:58:29 PM]

The Zimbabwe Guardian The official also reportedly likened Zanu-PF to a stick of explosives which was susceptible to ignition

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