BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
SUPREME Court judges on Tuesday presided over their own appeal against a judgment by the High Court, which outlawed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office by five years.
In May this year, High Court judges Justices Happias Zhou, Edith Mushore and Jester Charewa ruled that the extension of Malaba’s term by five years after reaching the retirement age of 70 was unconstitutional.
This was after Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika and the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe filed separate applications at the High Court challenging the extension of the Chief Justice’s term of office.
The applicants cited Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Attorney-General Prince Machaya and all the judges of the Constitutional and Supreme courts.
The JSC and the 17 Supreme and Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judges appealed the judgment two weeks later.
In the appeal, the 17 judges — namely Justices Malaba, Elizabeth Gwaunza, Paddington Garwe, Rita Makarau, Anne-Mary Gowora, Ben Hlatswayo, Bharat Patel, Antonia Guvava, Susan Mavangira, Chinembiri Energy Bhunu, Tendai Uchena, Nicholas Mathonisi, Charles Hungwe, Felistas Chatukuta, Alfas Chitakunye, Samuel Kudya and Lavender Makoni — were the appellants.
Kika and Ziyambi were cited as respondents.
But before the appeal was heard, one Marx Mupungu approached the ConCourt seeking to reverse the High Court ruling.
The ConCourt bench led by Deputy Chief Justice Gwaunza unanimously ruled that the extension of Malaba’s term limit was constitutional.
The apex court annulled Justice Zhou’s judgment, confirming that all medically fit judges of the three top courts’ terms of office could be extended until they reach 75.
The three judges concurred that the constitutional right applied only to sitting High Court judges and not to sitting Supreme Court or ConCourt judges.
Kika snubbed the hearing after the ConCourt dismissed his application to have the judges recuse themselves because they were cited in the Justice Zhou judgment, making them conflicted.
But yesterday, three Supreme Court judges, Justices Makoni, Kudya and Chitakunye, who were all cited in the case as appellants, presided over the appeal and postponed the matter to November 24 because the lawyer representing the Ziyambi, Thembinkosi Magwaliba, was attending to another case.
The judges are represented by Addington Chinake.