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Probe CJ Malaba, judge tells ED

BY MOSES MATENGA /HARRIET CHIKANDIWA HIGH Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere has asked President Emmerson Mnangagwa to probe the conduct of Chief Justice Luke Malaba, arguing his interference with judges’ independence was a danger to the judicial system. This came as the hearing to interdict Mnangagwa from suspending her will be heard before Justice Benjamin Chikowero today after Judge President Justice George Chiweshe ignored her request to have a retired judge for her case. In August, Justice Chikowero dismissed former Supreme Court judge Justice Francis Bere’s application challenging the legality of a tribunal set to determine his fitness for office. Yesterday, Justice Ndewere’s lawyers Mtetwa and Nyambirai also wrote to Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, asking him to restore the judge’s salary and benefits as the action was unlawful. In a letter dated November 5, 2020 addressed to Mnangagwa and copied to Malaba, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Judge President George Chiweshe and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi  Ziyambi, Ndewere said the Chief Justice’s continued threats on judges and interfering with their duties was “destabilising” operations of the High Court. “I do so with hope and expectancy that your office will seriously look into what I consider the worst form of judicial interference in the work of the High Court by the Chief Justice,” Ndewere’s letter read in part. Ndewere was last week suspended by Mnangagwa and a tribunal was set up to inquire into her suitability to hold the “esteemed office of a judge”. A three-member tribunal chaired by retired Judge Justice Simbi Mubako has been set up and includes lawyer Charles Warara and Yvonne Masvora. Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza is its secretary. Ndewere is being accused of conduct inconsistent with a judicial officer, reportedly for slipshod work and a batch of delayed judgments. Police besieged her Mandara house at the weekend and removed security as per the JSC request following her suspension. Added Ndewere in her letter: “The interference by the Chief Justice affects the independence and impartiality of judicial officers when they make decisions in cases before them. “A failure to investigate the conduct of the Chief Justice will adversely affect the entire justice delivery system which will in turn negatively impact on Your Excellency’s attempts at attracting foreign investors into Zimbabwe. “I also mention that there have been instances where judges exercised their independence and rendered decisions which accorded with their understanding of the law and the facts, only for the Chief Justice to react negatively against the decisions, resulting in late appeals or reviews designed to secure the decision favoured by the Chief Justice. “It appears the Chief Justice wants all judges to reason and decide as he would have done had he been the one seized with the matter. It appears the Chief Justice doesn’t appreciate the diverse backgrounds and experi

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