Rita Makarau
BornRita Munemo
(1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 61)
Known forBeing the first woman Judge President of Zimbabwe
Spouse(s)Amos Makarau

Rita Makarau is a Zimbabwean judge and the former Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Makarau is the Justice of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe and former Secretary of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). She is the first female Judge President of Zimbabwe. Makarau is also the Electoral Commissions Forum-SADC President.


Rita Makarau was born Rita Munemo on 7 December 1960. [1] She is married to the director of meteorological services Amos Makarau and together they have a daughter who is also a lawyer.[2]


Makarau attended Donbrooke Primary School in Mabvuku for her primary education before proceeding to Goromonzi High School. In 1982, Makarau graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a Bachelor of Laws Degree before graduating with an Honours Degree in 1983.[1] A teacher she knew was Thompson Kumbirai Tsodzo.


Between 1983 and 1984, Makarau worked as a Public Prosecutor at the Harare Magistrates Court before going into private practice. During her private practice years, Makarau worked for Kantor and Immerman legal practitioners. Makarau had her first case at the age of 24. From 1988 to 1989 Makarau was the Secretary of Legal Affairs at the Parastatal Commission. From 1998 to 2000 she served in the Constitutional Commission[3] before she was appointed High Court Judge in December 2000. In 2006, she assumed the position of Judge President becoming the first female to assume the role. In May 2010, she was appointed a Supreme Court Judge and was replaced by former Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe.[1] In 2013, the principals of the Government of National Unity chose her to be the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.[4]

Makarau was also a part-time lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. She taught procedural law, conveyancing law and notarial law.

Landmark Rulings

In January 2006 Margaret Dongo was turned away by the Registrar General’s Office while seeking to obtain a passport for her child Kudakwashe Norman on the basis that she could not assist the child to obtain a passport, as she was not the natural guardian of the child. Makarau granted Dongo the authority to assist her minor child to obtain a passport without the presence and the authority of the child's father. The ruling overruled a High court judgment that said Dongo was not authorized by law to assist her child get a passport without the aid of the father.[5]

Vote Rigging Allegations

After the 2013 elections, Makarau was accused by Movement for Democratic Change - Tsvangirayi (MDC-T) of being biased towards Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and failing to stop vote rigging.[6]


In December 2017, Makarau resigned as the Chairperson of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The reasons pertaining to her resignation were not given. In February 2018, Makarau resigned as the acting secretary of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Rita Makarau Resigns From Judicial Services Commission (JSC) The Judicial Services Commision issued out a statement which read:

The JSC wishes to advise the public and all stakeholders that the honorable Mrs Justice Rita Makarau requested to step down as acting secretary of the commission and to return to the Supreme Court bench.

At its meeting of February 8, 2018, the Commission resolved to accept Justice Makarau’s request to step down as acting secretary and allow her to resume her duties as judge of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court with effect from Monday, February 12, 2018.

The chairperson and the commissioners wish to extend their appreciation to Justice Makarau for the contribution she made towards the good administration of the commission from its inception until now.


  • Makarau did not want to be a lawyer- after high school, she wanted to study sociology and her father wanted her to be a nurse. She, however, did law since she had passed her Advanced Level studies well.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 , Rita Makarau's profile:Zimbabwe first female Judge President, iHarare, published: August 30, 2013, retrieved: June 23, 2016
  2. 2.0 2.1 ,Chengetai Zvauya, I'm a true African woman, Daily News, published: August 18, 2014, retrieved: June 22, 2016
  3. , Farai Share, Makarau to head the ZEC, Herald, published: February 19, 2013, retrieved: June 23, 2016
  4. , Rita Makarau for Zec top post, NewsDay, published: February 20, 2013, retrieved: June 23, 2016,
  5. , Landmark Ruling For Zimbabwe Women, The Zimbabwe Daily, published: June 3, 2010, retrieved: June 22, 2016
  6. , I’m in a hot seat, says ZEC boss Makarau, The Zimbabwean, published: June 23, 2016, retrieved: June 23, 2016