President Emmerson Mnangagwa has extended Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office by an additional five years after his medical report said that he is still mentally and physically fit to continue in the job.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda has written to Chief Justice Malaba advising him that President Mnangagwa has accepted his election to continue in the office of Chief Justice beyond 70 years for an additional five years.
Judicial Service Commission secretary Mr Walter Chikwana confirmed the latest development.
Yesterday we reported how Malaba vowed to fight for the extension of his tenure in office by opposing an urgent chamber application filed by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum Executive Director, Dr Musa Kika at the High Court that is seeking to bar the extension of Malaba’s tenure.
Justice Malaba turns 70 on 15 May 2021 and was due to go on retirement in terms of the provisions of the original 2013 Constitution. But under the recently passed Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Act which was signed into law by Mnangagwa on 7 May 2021, Malaba’s term in office could be extended at the discretion of the president.
Kika challenged the provisions under which Malaba would benefit, which were introduced in terms of an amendment to Section 328(7) of the Constitution, would allow the Chief Justice, his deputy, Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza as well as Constitutional Court and Supreme Court judges to have their terms of office extended by the President on production of a medical certificate confirming that such a judge would be fit enough to continue on the bench.
He added that section 328 requires the holding of a referendum where an amendment Bill seeks to amend a term-limiting provision.
Section 328(7) also makes it clear that any amendment to a term-limit provision does not apply to any person who held or occupied that office at the time before the amendment.