Zimbabwean judge heads to court to stop suspension
Rustenburg – A high court judge in Zimbabwe has filed an interdict to stop President Emmerson Mnangagwa from suspending her pending correct disciplinary procedures, local media reported on Monday.
According to a report in the independent newspaper NewsDay, Judge Erica Ndewere has filed an interdict against Mnangagwa to stop him from suspending her until Chief Justice Luke Malaba has followed the correct disciplinary procedures.
She accused the chief justice of discrimination, stating that former judge Francis Bere’s disciplinary hearing was done according to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) guidelines, whereas her case had been sent directly to Mnangagwa without giving her an opportunity to be heard.
She said, by law, the setting up of a tribunal by Mnangagwa would result in her automatic suspension, which would prejudice her work and reputation.
She was of the view that the judge president was in charge of the high court and was supposed to be the complainant in her case.
According to the newspaper, Ndewere claimed she was being victimised after allegedly refusing bail instruction in cases involving former cabinet minister Priscah Mupfumira, who is accused of corruption and fraud, and MDC Alliance legislator Job Sikhala, accused of plotting to unseat Mnangagwa.
State-run daily newspaper The Herald reported that Ndewere believed the chief justice’s instruction, which he issued in August 2019 in connection with a bail matter she handled, was unlawful.
"This is why even before I had explained the Kenneth Majecha review in June 2020, the (chief justice) told the (Judge President George Chiweshe) to tell me that he wanted to take me to the tribunal," The Herald quoted her as saying.
She said her application for a court order preventing Mnangagwa from setting up the tribunal was the only course of action open to her to keep her job.
According to The Herald, the JSC has recommended a tribunal to investigate whether Ndewere is fit to hold office, after discovering she was not clearing her workload in reasonable time and that she had not properly studied the file on a man convicted of theft.
She reportedly reviewed the decision of a Marondera magistrate to lock up Kenneth Majecha, 21, for theft and referred the case back to the lower court for re-sentencing, recommending community service for Majecha, whom she referred to as a youth and a first-time offender.
However, Majecha reportedly had three prior convictions. The court record reflected the convictions and included copies of the required certificates.
The daily reported that according to the trial record, which was also brought before the high court for review, Majecha was convicted of housebreaking and sentenced to eight months in prison in 2016.
In 2017, he was sentenced to a wholly suspended two-year prison term but that same year was back in court, convicted of robbery and jailed for an effective 26 months.
The JSC argued that the judge decided on the case without fully reading the record of proceedings, the trial magistrate’s reasons for sentence and the attached certificates of previous convictions.
She reportedly had 12 reserved judgments by June 30 last year, which had gone for at least two years without a determination. Failure to deliver a reserved judgment within a period of 90 days is a breach of the JSC (Code of Ethics) Regulations of 2012, the daily reported.
By May 18 this year, she had 28 pending cases with judgments having been reserved for periods stretching from nine to 24 months.
African News Agency (ANA)