Bulawayo High Court judges have written a letter of complaint to the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) expressing their displeasure over utterances by Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who is alleged to have castigated the Bulawayo bench for failing to understand the law
Source: Byo judges hit back at DCJ Malaba – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 14, 2016
BY CHARLES LAITON
The followed the publication of an article in a local newspaper in which the Deputy Chief Justice allegedly castigated the judges in an open court while chairing proceedings in an appeal matter involving the AFM Church ownership wrangle.
The judges said although Justice Malaba had openly attacked them in public, he had forgotten that he, at one point, also made the same error, but was never publicly censured.
“For instance, the DCJ (Malaba) himself got it wrong in the case of Forestry Commission vs Moyo 1997 (1) ZLR 254 (SC) wherein, he, among other errors, granted condonation without it having been applied for. The Supreme Court bench, which comprised (Anthony) Gubbay CJ, (Nicholas) McNally JA and (Simbarashe) Muchechetere JA, held that the DCJ erred in that case, set aside his findings and corrected the position without castigating him as not understanding the law,” the judges said.
In a letter dated November 30 and addressed to Judge President George Chiweshe, the judges said judicial officers the world over were not infallible, but that would not warrant public censure.
“We have handled numerous cases as a station, in some of which upon appeal the Supreme Court has upheld our decisions. Why then attack our general knowledge of the law and conclude that because of just one case, we then do not understand the law?” the judges asked.
“To say just because of one case out of 1 000 cases that we have dealt with as a station ‘Bulawayo judges don’t understand the law’ is an unfair attack on our general performance.”
They added: “We obviously, as judges, do not claim monopoly to legal knowledge, which is why there is a Supreme Court to check on our work. Judicial precedent shows that even the Supreme Court itself has sometimes revisited its prior position on the law and gave a different legal position altogether, those are the dynamics of the judicial interpretation of the law. No single persons can claim monopoly in legal knowledge.”
Officials at the JSC yesterday said they had not yet received the judges’ letter of complaint.