George Smith

Justice George Smith is a retired judge and a legal consultant. He holds BA and LIB degrees from the University of Cape Town. He was appointed Attorney General in the office of the Southern Rhodesia in 1964. In 1974, he was appointed director of Legal Drafting and in 1977 he became the Solicitor general. He was awarded the Independence Commemorative Decoration and Commander of the Legion of Merit in 1971.In 1979 he became the secretary to the Prime Minister (Abel Muzorewa) and Cabinet of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. In 1980, he became the secretary to the Prime Minister (former President Robert Mugabe) and Cabinet of Zimbabwe. He has also worked as a judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe.

He is currently the chairman of the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS) and the chairman of the National Blood Transfusion Service and the Epilepsy Support foundation Trust. He also worked as a board member at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Education

He attended the University of Cape Town, and got his BA, LLB (degrees) (1951-55).

Career

In 1956, he joined the Federal Attorney-General’s Office, and worked there until the federation was dissolved in December 1963. In January 1964, he was transferred to the Southern Rhodesia Attorney-General’s Office. He worked his way up until 1979 when he was director of legal drafting and Solicitor-General. Although he worked with Ian Smith, he wasn’t in the Cabinet Office.

He was involved, being in the Attorney-General’s Office and being chief draftsman. So, he went along for any talks that were involved as he was the legal person. He remembers going up to Zambia at one time to have talks with the late ZAPU leader Joshua Nkomo. He was also involved with talks with Muzorewa over six or nine months which resulted in the agreement on the new Constitution that he drafted, that Ian Smith was happy with. That led to elections in 1979.

He was then transferred to the Cabinet Office as Secretary to the Prime Minister (Bishop Abel Muzorewa). The new Prime Minister wanted a new Secretary to the Cabinet because the previous one had been with Ian Smith for a number of years, and the Public Service Commission recommended him.

He was asked to draft the 1980 Constitution with the British people and that’s what happened. Soames came out as Governor; he was in charge of the civil service. Soames presided until the 1980 elections which the late former President Robert Mugabe won and became Prime Minister. In the Cabinet Office, President Mugabe asked him if he would stay on as Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which he did from 1980 to 1983. They had a very good relationship.

In January 1984, he was appointed Judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe, and he remained as a judge for 19-and-a-half years. When one is a lawyer in the Attorney-General’s Office and become a judge, they feel that is a promotion. Instead of just being on the legal side, one would now be administering the law, saying this part of the law is wrong; this is what they think it should be.[1]

He led the Commission which was set up to probe the process used to convert pensions and insurance benefits following dollarisation of the economy in 2009. The Commission included Violet Mutandwa, Anesu Daka, Brains Muchemwa, the late George Dikinya, Godfrey Kanyenze, Tapiwa Maswera, Itai Chirume and Martin Tarusenga. It was set up by the late former President Robert Mugabe in 2015 to look into the conversion of insurance and insurance values from the Zimbabwe dollar.[2]

References

  1. Morris Mkwate, [1], The Sunday Mail, Published: 5 February, 2016, Accessed: 16 June, 2020
  2. Phillimon Mhlanga, [2], Business Times, Published: 21 September, 2018, Accessed: 16 June, 2020