Mtetwa seeks to defend Chief Justice interviews

HUMAN rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, has approached the Supreme Court seeking to be granted an opportunity to be part of the hearing of an appeal, which was lodged by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) against a High Court interdict stopping interviews to select a new Chief Justice.

Source: Mtetwa seeks to defend Chief Justice interviews – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 2, 2017


The interviews were conducted in December last year after the JSC, which had been barred from conducting the interviews, filed an appeal arguing Justice Charles Hungwe had misdirected himself.

Mtetwa last month filed an application seeking to be admitted “as a friend of the court”, saying it was the duty of each lawyer to protect the Constitution, observe and support the observance of the rule of law and human rights.

In her submissions, Mtetwa argues that the JSC’s decision to conduct the interviews for outgoing Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku’s successor were carried out above board and ought not to have been suspended by the High Court.

“It is, therefore, of utmost importance to ensure that all constitutional provisions, particularly where there are no allegations of any violations, be scrupulously observed as provided for in the Constitution. To do otherwise would lead to absurdity, where constitutional provisions can be suspended at a whim, which could render the Constitution, and its provisions, a worthless document that does not give the people of Zimbabwe the many protections its makers envisaged,” she said in her founding affidavit.

“The application for an interdict under appeal that was brought by the first respondent [Romeo Taombera Zibani] before the High Court, has a severe impact upon our constitutional democracy as it threatens the supremacy of the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and cannot, therefore, be suspended by a court of law granting an interdict on the basis of an amendment yet to be passed. A court of law is not permitted to act unlawfully or interdict lawful conduct.”

Justice Hungwe’s interdict order sought to stop the selection process on the basis of an Executive decision to amend the Constitution and change the way certain judicial officers, including the Chief Justice, are to be appointed.

Mtetwa, however, said a court of law cannot find that part of the Constitution as unconstitutional neither can it suspend its effect, adding: “Only a Constitution can internally limit the operation or effects of its own provisions.”

Mtetwa said she would file her heads of argument on Monday pending hearing of the matter on February 13.