By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Politics |
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has predictably fired High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere over “gross incompetence” but many feel she is being punished for granting bail to opposition MDC Alliance Vice Chairman Job Sikhala last year.
Mnangagwa established a Tribunal last year to inquire into her fitness to hold office after the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) accused her of keeping a backlog of 28 outstanding judgments. She denied the charges arguing that out of 17 judges she was being singled out for victimisation.
The hearing was heard before a three-member tribunal led by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako. Justice Ndewere was represented by prominent lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa of Mtetwa and Nyambirai.
She was charged three weeks after she had granted Sikhala bail in a case he is facing charges of allegations of inciting public violence in connection with 31st July protests against corruption. The “landmark ruling” was not popular with Zanu PF elites.
On Thursday, Justice Mubako presented findings of the Tribunal and recommended the dismissal of Justice Ndewere from office.
In a statement seen by Nehanda Radio, Chief Secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda confirmed that Mnangagwa officially fired Justice Ndewere after noting recommendations of the Tribunal.
“The Tribunal established in terms of Section 187 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, to inquire into the question of removal from office of Honourable Justice Erica Ndewere has completed its investigations.
“The Tribunal has presented its findings to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of Section 187 (7) of the Constitution. The Tribunal has recommended that Honourable Justice Ndewere be removed from office for gross incompetence.
“His Excellency, the President has accordingly, in terms of Section 187 (8) of the Constitution, removed Honourable Justice Erica Ndewere from office with immediate effect,” Sibanda said.
Ndewere was accused of “gross misconduct” in the performance of her duties, including failure to clear her workload in reasonable time and failure to properly study the file on a thief’s conviction and sentence when she set aside a jail term, charges she denied.
She however, accused Chief Justice Luke Malaba of pursuing her after she defied his “unlawful orders.”
Many claim Justice Malaba wanted to force Ndewere not to grant Sikhala bail but she professionally refused.
Commenting after the dismissal of Ndewere, Sikhala said: “Very sad in Zimbabwe is our judiciary. One of the most impartial adjudicators in Zimbabwe who stood against the forces of judiciary capture has been forced off the bench.
“When you eliminate one, other great people of integrity will emerge. I am with you in pain.” Nehanda Radio