"Mnangagwa Has Failed By Appointing Chigumba As ZEC Chairperson"
Senator David Coltart has criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointment of Priscilla Chigumba as the new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson replacing Justice Rita Makarau who resigned under yet to be disclosed circumstances.
Writing on micro-blogging site Twitter, Coltart argued that Mnangagwa should never have appointed a Judge who was questioned by both the former Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and the current one Luke Malaba on corruption allegations. Wrote Coltart:
Coltart is referring to the bribery allegations which were levelled against Chigumba during her interview to be a Supreme Court judge in 2017. While a section of the public feels that this was a smear campaign against Chigumba who is known for her ruling against a Government ban on demonstrations and clearing Pastor Even Mawarire of attempting to overthrow the government of Mugabe and inciting others to commit public violence, Constitutional law expert Alex Magaisa believes the bribery allegations will continue to haunt her unless there is a definite public clearance. However, Magaisa argues that “ An allegation alone is not enough to disqualify her from holding the ZEC Chair”. Writing on his website The Big Saturday Read, Magaisa argues:
The allegations of bribery will probably haunt her into her new job unless there is a definite public clearance. She was accused of demanding a $20,000 bribe from a litigant in a matter she was adjudicating. She protested vehemently against these allegations. It is not clear whether she was cleared but her appointment would suggest that she was. If she was cleared of the allegations, that clearance did not receive sufficient publicity to clear her name in the court of public opinion. In any event, the allegations seem to have cost her a promotion to the Supreme Court. She was going through the interview process for the job when the allegations were first publicly disclosed.
If there is any semblance of truth in the allegations, then it casts doubt on her credibility for the job as she would appear to be corruptible. However, if she was cleared of the allegations, and it is possible that it may have been a smear campaign, then this needs to be made clear in order to give confidence to all political actors and the electorate. Every person, including a judge, is entitled to due process, which means she must be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and she ought to be given a chance to defend herself. An allegation alone is not enough to disqualify her from holding the ZEC Chair.