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Mnangagwa swears in tribunal to investigate Justice Martin Makonese

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday swore in three members of a tribunal that will look into the ‘fitness to hold office’ of Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Martin Makonese.

The investigation team is led by retired Judge, Justice Simbi Veke Mubako.

Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana confirmed the development in a statement on Twitter.

“Today, His Excellency, President Mnangagwa is swearing in members of the tribunal that will look into the fitness of Bulawayo High Court Judge, Justice Martin Makonese, to hold office.

“Justice Makonese has been suspended pending the finalisation of the investigation, which is the standard procedure once a tribunal is set up. The complaint against Justice Makonese followed an order he issued in a coal mine dispute in which he allegedly had a financial interest.

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“Allegations arose when he allegedly made the order without an application made before him, and without the knowledge of lawyers of the two other parties in the dispute,” he said.

“The dispute over a coal mine in Hwange pits a company called Philcool Investments, who were the applicants, and two others called Hwange Coal Gasification and Taiyuan Sanxing, who were the respondents during the hearing purportedly held on October 12 last year.

“Reports indicate that there is serious doubt that the hearing took place.

“Justice Makonese’s order gave Philcool the relief sought, including ordering the other two parties to abandon operations pending court applications. The tribunal has five months to complete the probe from the date of taking oaths before the President.”

Meanwhile, another tribunal chaired by retired High Court judge Justice Maphios Cheda, digging into suspended Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) Commissioner John Makamure is still investigating the case after the President in March extended its tenure for another six months to September in terms of a Presidential proclamation gazetted as Statutory Instrument 30 of 2023.

The ZACC spokesperson was suspended last year over allegations of his involvement in political activities which are inconsistent with the functions and duties of his office.

Other members of the tribunal are Harare lawyer Charles Warara and Regai Thandiwe Hove.

Section 237(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that a member of an independent commission may be removed from office only on the grounds that the member concerned has been guilty of gross misconduct.