Chidyausiku fights back on CJ choice

Source: Chidyausiku fights back on CJ choice – DailyNews Live 17 January 2017

Tendai Kamhungira

HARARE – Outgoing Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday made
revealing comments about the ongoing controversy surrounding the holding
of public interviews to find his successor – saying President Robert
Mugabe never directed that the interviews be stopped.

Chidyausiku’s revelation came as the battle to appoint his successor has
taken a decidedly factional tone, as the ruling Zanu PF’s brawling bigwigs
fight to install a candidate acceptable to their respective camps.

It also comes after High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, issued an
interdict last month preventing the Judicial Services Commission (JSC)
from proceeding with the public interviews – although the process still
went ahead after the JSC filed an appeal against the interdict.

Speaking at the official opening of the 2017 judicial year yesterday,
Chidyausiku said the interviewing process had been conducted in terms of
Zimbabwe’s Constitution, and had happened after he had briefed the
executive about the new procedure in appointing a new chief justice.

“I was surprised to receive communication a few days before the interviews
were due to commence that an executive order had been issued ordering the
JSC to stop the interviews for filling the post of Chief Justice,” he

Chidyausiku said he had responded to the communication by advising that
the executive’s directive could not be complied with as it went against
the Constitution.

“I have since established that the president never issued the alleged
executive order to stop the interviews. Ever since adopting our stance to
abide by the Constitution, a segment of the media has sought to impugn the
integrity of the JSC. This is most regrettable,” he said.

Three candidates, Constitutional Court judge Paddington Garwe, JSC
secretary Rita Makarau and deputy chief justice Luke Malaba were
interviewed for the post last month, with a fourth candidate, High Court
judge president George Chiweshe pulling out of the race at the last

University of Zimbabwe (UZ) Law School student Romeo Zibani launched an
application five days before the scheduled interviews, seeking to stop the
public interviews, resulting in Justice Hungwe delivering an order on
December 11, stopping the interviews.

“It occurs to me that where a lawful process leads to an absurd result, in
the sense that colleagues select each other for entitlement to public
office, as argued by applicant, it cannot be sanctioned on the ground that
it is provided for in the law. Such an approach is irrational,” Justice
Hungwe ruled.

But the JSC immediately noted an appeal at the Supreme Court, thereby
suspending Hungwe’s judgment.

At about the same time, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also in
charge of the Justice ministry, had through an affidavit that was
presented in court stated that he had begun a process to amend Section 180
of the Constitution, to change the process of appointing high level
judicial officers.

Chidyausiku, who will be retiring from the bench at the end of February,
said yesterday that the issue of whether the JSC did the correct thing or
not was still to be determined by the courts.

“This is all I wish to say on this unfortunate debate. In this regard, I
am inspired by Michelle Obama’s words of wisdom `when your detractors go
low, you go higher’. You do not follow them to the gutter,” Chidyausiku
said revealingly.

He also announced the retirement of Supreme Court judge Vernanda Ziyambi
and High Court judge November Mtshiya.