Justice Ministry won’t oppose Zibani

Tinashe Farawo
The Justice and Legal Affairs Ministry will challenge the constitutionality of the Supreme Court bench that overturned a High Court ruling suspending public interviews to select Zimbabwe’s next Chief Justice. The Sunday Mail understands that the ministry will file papers with the Constitutional Court tomorrow (Monday).
In 2016, the High Court granted an order sought by University of Zimbabwe law student Mr Romeo Zibani to suspend the interviews.
However, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling after the Judicial Services Commission appealed.
Mr Zibani is now challenging the constitutionality of the Supreme Court bench because Retired Justice Vernanda Ziyambi was recalled to sit and hear the appeal.
He argues that then Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku deliberately violated the Constitution by appointing Justice Ziyambi who had left her post after reaching retirement age.
Mr Zibani cites President Mugabe, Justice Minister Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Rtd Chief Justice Chidyausiku and Justice Ziyambi as respondents.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku retired last Tuesday.
Secretary for Justice Mrs Virginia Mabiza told The Sunday Mail that the ministry would not oppose Mr Zibani’s application.
“We are not opposing what Zibani is saying in his affidavit, but the most important thing is we will be bound by the decision of the court. We are going to file our affidavit Monday morning, latest Tuesday.
“We can’t give you the affidavit now but on Monday it will be before the courts, meaning it will be accessible to the public. You can have access to the facts and the legal issues will be in that affidavit.”
Two weeks ago, Mr Zibani wrote to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission recommending a probe into Chief Justice Chidyausiku.
The letter reads, “Justice Ziyambi had retired last year in November after having reached the age of seventy (70).
‘‘The subsquent appointment of Retired Justice Ziyambi was unlawful and unconstitutional as I have indicated. Retired Justice Ziyambi was no longer eligible for appointment having retired at the age of seventy (70).
“It is my humble submission that the Chief Justice deliberately and intentionally contravened (Section 186 (2)) I have referred to above by appointing a retired judge who had reached the age seventy (70) in contravention of the Constitution.
“This is clear abuse of the Chief Justice’s Office and, therefore, the Chief Justice is guilty of abuse of office. I say so because the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) (Chapter 9:23) Section 174 (1) reads thus;
“’174 Criminal abuse of duty as such, intentionally, (a) does anything that is contrary or inconsistent with his or her duty as a public officer or (b) omits to do anything which is or her duty as a public officer to do; for the purpose of showing favour of disfavour to any person, he or she shall be guilty of criminal abuse of duty as a public officer and liable to a fine not exceeding level thirteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding fifteen years or both.’
“The Chief Justice is guilty of contravening the above Section. I am requesting the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate this abuse of office by the Chief Justice.”
Zacc confirmed receiving the letter.

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