The Attorney General Sacky Shanghala will soon finalise plans to allocate to each ministry and regional council a trained legal practitioner to advise on legal issues that confront accounting officers.
Shanghala said the move is to prevent cases being made against the government, as often government has been held legally liable when officials did not pick up the fine print or any changes in contracts.
Shanghala made this revelation when President Hage Geingob met with permanent secretaries for a consultative workshop, where the Harambee Prosperity Plan was briefly explained.
Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa welcomed the idea, saying that there have been cries that state legal services under the attorney general be decentralised.
Shanghala stressed that the lawyers will offer legal advice on issues of contracts and agreements but will not duplicate the functions of the current legal officers.
He explained that currently there is no funding for the posts but there is however a commitment to a budget for the 2017/18 financial year.
“The constitution allows for one principal legal advisor to the president and government. What it does not say and what it by implication also says is that there can be secondary legal advisors.”
“I am sending these lawyers to the ministries, to represent my office, providing legal advice there. It makes it quicker and it helps to deal with the day-to-day issues that permanent secretaries deal with,” he said.
Shanghala maintained that sometimes there are changes in contracts, circumstances or names of people, which is not clearly understood by the ministries and lawyers are probably too busy to pick this up but his lawyers will be especially equipped for these tasks.
He said the current problem is that the ministries have lawyers who have not really been effective or not been utilised effectively.
“These people will be different from those who are in the structures and who are already lawyers and I will talk to the Public Service Commission about that. The difference is that those in the ministries take instructions from their bosses, the permanent secretaries, but these ones won’t because their boss is the attorney general,” he said.
He added that in order to prevent conflict between his lawyers and those in the ministries’ structures, his office would prepare an operational manual spelling out the duties of each legal practitioner.
“But it is really about the function. Their function is to provide legal advice, they are not there to draft your letters, but only when the letter relates to contractual matters or legal matters, but not the general stuff,” he said adding: “Let me give you an example. The ministry of defence has lawyers who are ranked in the armed services. I do not want my lawyers becoming soldiers. My lawyers will provide advice around the admin of the work of the institution of defence.”