Mugabe goes for blacker Supreme Court


0

President Robert Mugabe appointed three more judges to the Supreme Court bringing the total to eight.

The new judges were Misheck Cheda, Luke Malaba and Vernanda Ziyambi.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the new appointments were made in preparation for an expected increase in workload.

Eileen Sawyer, director of the Legal Resources Foundation, said that there was no reason to appoint additional judges, as the current members of the bench were not particularly busy.

The United States embassy said Mugabe was probably trying to pack the Supreme Court with judges loyal to his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

“More likely, the President is probably looking for a Supreme Court that is “blacker,” and in his calculation, more sympathetic to the ruling party,” the embassy said.

Law Society president Sternford Moyo, however, maintained that the new members of the bench could not be considered stooges of ZANU-PF.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 01HARARE2345, PRESIDENT MUGABE APPOINTS THREE ADDITIONAL SUPREME

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

01HARARE2345

2001-08-08 12:23

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

081223Z Aug 01

 

 

UNCLASSIFIED     PTO5054

 

PAGE 01       HARARE 02345 081245Z

ACTION AF-00

 

INFO LOG-00   NP-00   AID-00   AMAD-00 ACQ-00   CIAE-00 INL-00

DINT-00 DODE-00 DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00   EB-00   EUR-00

FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00   H-01     TEDE-00 INR-00

IO-00   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01   NSAE-00 OIC-02   OMB-01

OPIC-01 PA-00   PM-00   PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00

STR-00   TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 PMB-00   DSCC-00 PRM-01

DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00 SAS-00   SWCI-00   /009W

——————0F4DBB 081245Z /38

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9423

INFO NSC WASHDC

SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

AMEMBASSY NAIROBI

UNCLAS HARARE 002345

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR JENDAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR ZI

SUBJECT: PRESIDENT MUGABE APPOINTS THREE ADDITIONAL SUPREME

COURT JUDGES

 

 

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 02       HARARE 02345 081245Z

1.   PRESIDENT MUGABE HAS APPOINTED THREE ADDITIONAL

SUPREME COURT JUDGES, BRINGING THE TOTAL NUMBER OF JUSTICES

ON THE COUNTRY’S HIGHEST COURT TO EIGHT. MINISTER OF

JUSTICE PATRICK CHINAMASA ANNOUNCED THAT THE NEW

APPOINTMENTS WERE MADE IN PREPARATION FOR AN EXPECTED

INCREASE IN WORKLOAD. THE ADDITIONAL WORKLOAD, HE SAID,

WOULD RESULT FROM APPEALS FROM A NEWLY-CREATED LABOR

TRIBUNAL AND FROM AN EXPANDED ADMINISTRATIVE COURT, WHICH

IS HEARING CHALLENGES FROM FARMERS WHOSE PROPERTIES HAVE

BEEN LISTED FOR COMPULSORY ACQUISITION UNDER THE FAST-TRACK

RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM. PRIOR TO THEIR SWEARING-IN ON AUGUST

2, THE THREE NEWCOMERS — MISHECK CHEDA AND LUKE MALABA

FROM THE BULAWAYO HIGH COURT AND VERNANDA ZIYAMBI FROM THE

HARARE HIGH COURT — ALL PRESIDED AS SENIOR JUDGES.

 

2. THE NEW APPOINTMENTS HAVE RAISED EYEBROWS AMONG SOME

MEMBERS OF THE LEGAL COMMUNITY, WHO BELIEVE THE PRESIDENT

IS TRYING TO PACK THE COURT WITH HIS SUPPORTERS. EILEEN

SAWYER, DIRECTOR OF THE LEGAL RESOURCES FOUNDATION, TOLD US

THAT THERE WAS NO REASON TO APPOINT ADDITIONAL JUDGES, AS

THE CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE BENCH WERE NOT PARTICULARLY

BUSY. LAW SOCIETY PRESIDENT STERNFORD MOYO, HOWEVER,

MAINTAINED THAT THE NEW MEMBERS OF THE BENCH COULD NOT BE

CONSIDERED STOOGES OF ZANU-PF. HE DESCRIBED JUSTICE CHEDA

AS A “SOUND JUDGE” WHO RENDERS JUDGMENTS BASED ON HIS

READING OF THE LAW, NOT POLITICAL AFFILIATION. MOYO CITED

AS AN EXAMPLE CHEDA’S PUBLIC CRITICISM OF FORMER HIGH COURT

JUDGE PRESIDENT, AND CURRENT ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE, GODFREY

CHIDYAUSIKU FOR ISSUING A PRO-GOVERNMENT RULING ON THE FAST-

TRACK RESETTLEMENT EFFORT WHICH CONTRADICTED A PREVIOUS

SUPREME COURT DECISION. CHEDA CALLED CHIDYAUSIKU’S RULING

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 03       HARARE 02345 081245Z

“ERRONEOUS.” MOYOOYO DESCRIBED JUSTICE MALABA AS A “SOUND

AND CAPABLE LAWYER, PERHAPS ONE OF THE MOST ABLE IN

MATABELELAND”, AND SAID HE HAS A STRONG HUMAN RIGHTS

BACKGROUND. ALTHOUGH SOME OBSERVERS BELIEVE THAT ZIYAMBI

DOES NOT POSSESS THE SAME CALIBER OF LEGAL MIND AS HER TWO

COUNTERPARTS AND ARE SUSPICIOUS OF HER CONNECTIONS TO ZANU-

PF (HER HUSBAND WAS MINISTER OF JUSTICE WHEN HE DIED IN A

CAR ACCIDENT ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO), MOYO THOUGHT HER STRONG

RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS WOULD PLAY A MORE IMPORTANT ROLE IN

GUIDING HER DECISIONS THAN ANY POLITICAL SYMPATHIES.

(COMMENT: WE UNDERSTAND FROM OTHER SOURCES THAT MANY OF

ZIYAMBI’S RELATIVES, INCLUDING HER CHILDREN, BLAME ZANU-PF

FOR STAGING THE ACCIDENT IN WHICH HER HUSBAND DIED,

ALTHOUGH ZIYAMBI’S OWN THOUGHTS ON THIS ISSUE ARE NOT

CLEAR. END COMMENT.) MOYO NOTED THAT ZIYAMBI IS THE FIRST

WOMAN APPOINTED TO THE SUPREME COURT.

 

5.

COMMENT

——-

 

3. 3.MANY OBSERVERS HAVE BEEN EXPECTING PRESIDENT MUGABE

TO PACK THE COURT FOR SOME TIME TO DILUTE THE INFLUENCE OF

THE REMAINING JUSTICES, TWO OF WHOM ARE NOT BLACK. THE

CONSTITUTION OF ZIMBABWE PERMITS THE PRESIDENT TO APPOINT

AS MANY JUSTICES AS HE SEES FIT; IT ESTABLISHES ONLY A

MINIMUM NUMBER OF JUDGES (FIVE) THAT MUST OCCUPY THE BENCH.

.

GIVEN THE STRONG INDEPENDENT BACKGROUNDS OF TWO OF THE

THREE NEW APPOINTMENTS, IT IS UNLIKELY THAT THE GOZ CAN

UNCLASSIFIED

 

PAGE 04       HARARE 02345 081245Z

COUNT ON THEM TO AUTOMATICALLY DO ITS BIDDING. MORE

LIKELY, THE PRESIDENT IS PROBABLY LOOKING FOR A SUPREME

COURT THAT IS “BLACKER,” AND IN HIS CALCULATION, MORE

SYMPATHETIC TO THE RULING PARTY. HOWEVER, MUGABE STILL

WANTS A COURT THAT IS RESPECTABLE AND NOT BLATANTLY

PARTISAN BECAUSE HE VALUES A COURT THAT CAN PUT A CREDIBLE

STAMP OF LEGALITY ON HIS LAND SEIZURE PROGRAM AND OTHER

LAWS RESTRICTING POLITICAL FREEDOM. WE NOTE THAT GODFREY

CHIDYAUSIKU HAS NOT YET BEEN SWORN IN AS CHIEF JUSTICE; HE

HAS BEEN ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE FOR MORE THAN A MONTH. HE

HAS COME UNDER WIDESPREAD CRITICISM FROM THE LEGAL

COMMUNITY, AND THE GOVERNMENT MAY BE RETHINKING HIS

PERMANENT APPOINTMENT. END COMMENT.

 

HOOKS

 

UNCLASSIFIED

 

>

 

(59 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *