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Former High Court judge Erica Ndewere takes on Mnangagwa

By Desmond Chingarande | NewsDay |

Former High Court judge Erica Ndewere is demanding reasons for her dismissal by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and yesterday filed an urgent chamber application to force the tribunal to release the information.

Justice Erica Ndewere and Chief Justice Luke Malaba
Justice Erica Ndewere and Chief Justice Luke Malaba

Ndewere was fired last month for gross incompetence by Mnangagwa after a tribunal set up to inquire into her suitability to hold a judicial office recommended that she be removed from the bench.

The former High Court judge was accused of the misconduct during her time in office, including failure to clear her workload within a reasonable time and failure to properly apply her mind to a file on a thief’s conviction and sentence where she set aside a jail term.

But observers maintained she was fired for defying illogical directives from her principal, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, whom she accused of interfering in the discharge of her and colleagues’ duties as judges.

Ndewere’s dismissal was also linked to the bail she gave to MDC Alliance legislator Job Sikhala.

In her application, she cited Mnangagwa, the three-member tribunal led by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako, Charles Warara and Yvonne Masvora, who made recommendations for her removal from the bench.

The Judicial Service Commission and the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry were also listed as respondents.

Ndewere claimed she had not been furnished with a copy of the tribunal’s determination after only learning of its existence through social media.

She submitted that as an aggrieved party, she deserved the written reasons.

“From the time that I learnt, through social media of the tribunal’s decision, I have sought to be provided a copy of same, I requested a copy of the decision which I am entitled to by law,” she

“Despite the letters being addressed to all those concerned with the tribunal, I have only received a response from the Judicial Service Commission claiming that it was not in possession of the recommendation.

“In addition, in terms of the Administrative Justice Act as read with section 68 of the Construction of Zimbabwe, I am entitled to be given promptly and in writing the reasons why the tribunal came to the conclusion that it did.”

She added: “To be able to exercise my right to have the tribunal’s decision either reviewed or appealed against, I am entitled to the decision and the reasons thereof and as both a review and an appeal have timetables within which they have to be brought. I require the full reasons for the decision as a matter of urgency. I have been asking for the determination since June 18th, 2021, a day after media reports had intimated that my dismissal had been recommended and regrettably, it appears that no one wants to provide me with the decision and the reasons thereof.”

Ndewere’s lawyer Takunda Gombiro claimed that the case deserved urgent attention.

“Ndewere is entitled as a matter of law, to the reasons why an adverse decision was reached against her,” Gombiro said.

“Having requested for the decision and the reasons thereof many times without responses, Ndewere has been forced to come to court and as the time within which to appeal or to have the decision reviewed is ticking away, it is necessary that this matter be heard on an urgent basis.”

The matter is yet to be heard.