Tendai Kamhungira 4 May 2017
HARARE – Former long-serving chief justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, died in a
South African hospital yesterday, where he was receiving medical attention
for an undisclosed illness.
Chidyausiku left the bench two months ago after he reached the mandatory
retirement age of 70, having led the judiciary for 15 years, which
included some of the country’s most trying times.
A family member told the Daily News yesterday that funeral arrangements
were yet to be made as they were still working to repatriate his body to
His recent retirement was blighted somewhat by the ugly rows which erupted
over the appointment of his successor, when the selection decidedly took a
Zanu PF factional tone, as rival camps fought to install a candidate
acceptable to their respective interest groups.
The former chief justice, who was born in February 1947, read law and
graduated in 1972, before going into private practice as an advocate.
A little-known fact was that he was an MP in the Rhodesian Parliament,
representing the Harare African Roll Constituency.
He later changed course, becoming a Zanu MP in the 1980 elections, also
serving briefly as deputy Local Government minister and deputy Justice
minister before being appointed Attorney-General in 1982.
Chidyausiku later became a High Court judge in 1987, before being elevated
to the position of judge president of the High Court. He became the
country’s chief justice in 2001.
He is remembered for handing down a number of controversial rulings during
his tenure, including rubber-stamping the unjust closure of the Daily News
in 2003, as well as sanctioning the country’s chaotic fast-track land
reforms in the early 2000s, which saw white farmers being chased away from
“Chidyausiku’s death is a great loss to the legal fraternity which looked
to benefitting from his many years of experience as a jurist.
“I would like to pass my sincerest condolences to his family and the legal
fraternity as a whole. May his departed soul rest in eternal peace,”
Harare lawyer and opposition MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.