A tribunal to assess allegations of judicial impropriety by suspended High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere has indefinitely been suspended owing to the national lockdown.
Other tribunals have also been shelved owing to the same reasons, including the one set up to deliberate on allegations against Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) commissioner Frank Muchemwa and Zimbabwe Land Commissioner deputy chairperson Tadious Muzoroza and Commissioner Jeanette Marrie Manjengwa.
In an interview yesterday, Permanent Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza confirmed the indefinite suspension of the proceedings.
The move is aimed at minimising the spread of Covid-19 and complying with Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s directive that courts of law halt all trials except for bail applications and other urgent cases.
Mrs Mabhiza said work on all the three cases were going on well after a list of allegations were served to the defendants and all of them had furnished the respective commissions with their responses, until Government announced a 30-day national lockdown to contain the pandemic.
“Progress on all Commissions was on course before the announcement of the 30-day lockdown which commenced on 5 January 2021. The lockdown will be with effect from the date of announcement until after the lapse of 30 days,” said Mrs Mabhiza.
“As a result of the lockdown, all the three Commissions have suspended activities in light of the spiralling number of new Covid-19 infections.”
She said the venue of the Commissions, which is Harare Club, has been closed subject to the lockdown order.
“Members of the secretariat, who are mostly civil servants are also observing the lockdown from home. Commissioners have also suspended work until further notice.
“The inquiries in respect of all the three commissions are unlikely to be completed within the period set out in the Statutory Instruments establishing the three Commissions, hence extensions will be requested to enable the Commissions to complete their mandate,” said Mrs Mabhiza.
A three-member tribunal to probe Justice Ndewere led by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako was sworn-in by President Mnangagwa in November last year to inquire into her fitness to hold office.
Other members are lawyers, Mr Charles Warara and Ms Yvonne Masvora.
Justice Ndewere was suspended on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission, which alleged slipshod work and a large batch of overdue judgments.
The Constitution provides that a judge may be removed from office for inability to perform functions or due to mental or physical incapacity or gross incompetence.
A disciplinary tribunal headed by retired judge Justice Nicholas Ndou was sworn-in in September last year at the recommendation of JSC.
Other members are law lecturer Dr Tarisai Mutangi and lawyer Ms Clara Mapota.
ZACC is an independent body set up in terms of the Constitution and disciplinary proceedings governing it are the same as those relating to judges and the Prosecutor General.
A tribunal to probe two Commissioners from the Zimbabwe Land Commission is headed by retired judge Maphios Cheda sitting with Telecel chief executive, Ms Angeline Vere and Gweru-based lawyer, Mr Godfrey Mutseyekwa.