Mnangagwa Faces Tough Chief Justice Choice
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly in a quandary over who to appoint the new chief justice (CJ), amid indications that the recently retired Luke Malaba could ditch the fight to extend his tenure by five years.
Mnangagwa extended Malaba’s tenure by another 5 years early this month but High Court judges Justices Happias Zhou, Edith Mushore and Jester Helena Charewa ruled that Malaba had ceased to be chief justice by operation of law when he turned 70 on 15 May.
The ruling effectively blocked the move by Mnangagwa to extend Malaba’s tenure by five years.
NewsDay reported sources close to the developments as saying Malaba could throw in the towel following the furore and legal challenges the move had created. A source is quoted as saying:
In the event of Malaba electing to decline the extension of his era by the President, the pending appeals lodged by Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Attorney-General (Prince Machaya) will just be for academic purposes. This will render the selection of the next chief justice wide open.
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The frontrunners are thought to be Deputy CJ Elizabeth Gwaunza who is the Acting CJ and three judges with liberation war credentials — Justices Charles Hungwe, George Chiweshe and Chinembiri Bhunu.
Justices Paddington Garwe and Rita Makarau, who were appointed to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday, are reportedly in the running as well.
A senior lawyer who refused to be named told NewsDay that Malaba should decline the extension of his tenure to preserve whatever little has been left of his legacy. Said the lawyer:
It would be prudent for Malaba to preserve whatever little has been left of his legacy by declining the extension of his tenure.
It is not in the best interest of the Judiciary in Zimbabwe that from the look of things he seems to have worked in cahoots with politicians to extend his tenure as CJ, wherein the Constitution was rushed through Parliament for his sole benefit.