Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
THE tribunal probing the fitness of suspended Supreme Court Judge Justice Francis Bere to hold office has completed its inquiry and the report will be submitted soon to President Mnangagwa.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza yesterday commended the three-member tribunal for having worked tirelessly despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and numerous court applications to challenge the proceedings.
“The report will be handed to the President who is expected to act in terms of the Constitution.”
However, the investigations were concluded in the absence the judge and his legal team after they walked out on the proceedings in protest over the tribunal’s refusal to have one of its members, Advocate Takawira Nzombe, recuse himself because of his alleged links to Harare lawyer Mr Itayi Ndudzo, who was a crucial witness in the inquiry.
The lawyers were also not content with the extension of the tribunal’s tenure by another six months after the expiry of its intial tenure of four months.
Lead defence counsel Advocate Firoz Girach, Advocate Lewis Uriri and Prof Lovemore Madhuku walked out of the hearing protesting over what they claimed to be a “violation of legal procedure”.
President Mnangagwa set up the tribunal inquiry on the recommendation of Judicial Service Commission after lawyer Mr Itai Ndudzo accused the judge of interference in a civil case involving the Zimbabwe National Road Administration and his relatives.
The judge allegedly telephoned Mr Ndudzo, who was representing Zinara, asking him to consider settling a civil dispute pitting Zinara against Fremus Enterprises.
Justice Bere was serving on both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court benches when he was suspended in March this year.
The tribunal sought to establish whether or not Justice Bere conducted himself improperly in violation of the oath of office and the Constitution by interfering in the matter at the centre of the inquiry.
The tribunal is made up of retired judge retired Justice Simbi Mubako, Adv Nzombe and Harare lawyer Ms Rekayi Maposa.