THE Attorney General’s Office (AG’s Office) has been hit hard by a high staff turnover, with the absence of a substantive head not helping the situation.This, it is feared, will further stall the already delayed re-alignment of laws to the new Constitution.
The worst affected of the four AG departments has been the legal drafting section, which is now left with eight legal drafters out of the required 20.
Equally dire is the situation in the other sections namely legal advisory and the civil division.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary, Virginia Mabiza, said the staff situation has slowed down the re-alignment of the country’s laws.
“On average if you look at legal drafting of bills which are brought before Parliament, you will need an experienced law officer with at least seven years experience to draft meaningful bills to be taken that route,” she said.
“So at this point in time we are only left with eight experienced officers in that department against a staff establishment of about 24 law officers.”
The office has been forced to rely on less experienced law officers so that there is no gridlock in the system.
This explains why the judiciary has in the past expressed reservations at AG’s Office for seconding junior law officers to appear in the Supreme and Constitutional Courts.
Sadly, the AG’s Office is currently inhibited from filling up the vacant posts because of a recruitment freeze imposed by the Public Service Commission.
The AG’s Office has been without an AG since the enactment of the new Constitution in 2013 which resulted in the separation of the AG’s Office and that of the Prosecutor General (PG).
Former AG, Johannes Tomana, now heads the PG’s office, leaving a vacancy in the former.
While government has been promising to make an appointment “soon,” the office has been vacant since 2013.