By Nyashadzashe Ndoro | Nehanda Courts |
Controversial Chief Justice Luke Malaba swore in nine High Court judges who were appointed through a ‘bogus’ process, legal analysts have noted.
The nine, Justice Rodgers Manyangadze who was judge at the Labour court, Justice Joseph Chilimbe, Justice Catherine Bachi Mzawazi, Justice Bongani Ndlovu, Justice Samuel Deme, chief magistrate Justice Munamato Mutevedzi, Justice Never Katiyo, JSC official Justice Elijah Makomo and Regional magistrate Justice Lucie-Annie Mungwari were sworn in at the Constitutional Court in Harare on Wednesday.
Speaking at the event, Judicial Service Commission Secretary Walter Chikwanha said the appointment of judges will help clear the backlog at the High Court which was now short-staffed after six judges were elevated to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, a total of 13 High Court judges have been appointment in the past months.
The appointment of these judges raised suspicions two days ago following the leaking of a government document that, however, showed that Mnangagwa’s cabinet was also involved in the process, which lawyers described as “illegal, unconstitutional and scandalous.”
This is because the Constitution says Judges are appointed by the president on the recommendations of the JSC which also conducts public interviews of shortlisted candidates.
Part of the leaked document says: “The Cabinet has the honour to recommend that His Excellency, the President, may be pleased to appoint the following as judges of the High Court of Zimbabwe in terms of section 180(1) of the constitution…”
In his popular Big Saturday Read (BSR) analysis, UK based academic Dr Alex Magaisa noted: “The problem, as we have just observed, emanates from serious procedural irregularities associated with the constitutional amendment extending Chief Justice Malaba’s tenure.
“The first problem is that the amendment to the term-limit provision was not submitted to a referendum. The second problem is that the amendment was applied to benefit incumbent judges, including Chief Justice Malaba, which is why he is still in office beyond his 70th birthday.
“It is important to add that the amendment was rushed through Parliament and was passed just a few days before his birthday. It was a clear move to ensure that he benefited from the amendment, which is why commentators refer to it as the “Malaba Amendment”. Nehanda Radio