Rita Makarau

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Rita Makarau
BornRita Munemo
(1960-12-07) December 7, 1960 (age 63)
Known forBeing the first woman Judge President of Zimbabwe
Spouse(s)Amos Makarau

Rita Makarau was a Zimbabwean judge and former Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Makarau was 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 was also the Electoral Commissions Forum-SADC President.

Personal Details

Born: Rita Munemo on 7 December 1960. [1]
Marriage: to Amos Makarau, director of meteorological services. They have a daughter who is also a lawyer. [2]

School / Education

Primary: Donbrooke Primary School in Mabvuku.
Secondary: Goromonzi High School.
Tertiary: Bachelor of Laws, University of Zimbabwe, 1982.
Honours Degree in 1983. [1]
A teacher she knew was Thompson Kumbirai Tsodzo.

Service / Career

Between 1983 and 1984, Makarau worked as a Public Prosecutor at the Harare Magistrates Court before going into private practice, working 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.

At the end of March 2023, Zimbabwean judges Rita Makarau and Moses Chinhengo were appointed to serve on the Namibian Supreme Court and High Court, respectively.

Rita Makarau, formerly Judge-President of the (Zimbabwe) High Court and chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, was appointed acting Judge of the (Namibia) Supreme Court from 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024. [5]


Ruling - Margaret Dongo's child

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. [6]

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. [7]


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. Top Zimbabwe judges Makarau, Chinhengo join Namibia bench, The Zimbabwe Mail, Published: 30 March 2023, Retrieved: 4 April 2023
  6. , Landmark Ruling For Zimbabwe Women, The Zimbabwe Daily, published: June 3, 2010, retrieved: June 22, 2016
  7. , I’m in a hot seat, says ZEC boss Makarau, The Zimbabwean, published: June 23, 2016, retrieved: June 23, 2016

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