Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) and legal experts in Bulawayo have welcomed the appointment of Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba as the country’s new Chief Justice.
LSZ president Mr Misheck Hogwe said the new Chief Justice-designate was a versatile judge with a wealth of experience in the legal fraternity having served the judiciary for the past 35 years.
“As LSZ, we welcome the appointment of Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba as the new Chief Justice, most importantly because it was done in terms of the provisions of the country’s supreme law. The new CJ designate was DCJ for a long time and he acquainted himself very well with the judiciary system and we are convinced that he deserves the appointment,” he said.
Prominent Bulawayo lawyer Mr Kucaca Ivumile Phulu commended President Mugabe for appointing DCJ Malaba, saying the process was done on merit.
“We are happy about the appointment of Justice Malaba as the country’s Chief Justice and we would like to congratulate him. In fact, we are saying the process gives dignity to our legal system in terms of respecting the law and its legacy. We are therefore confident as lawyers that the new CJ is capable of steering the ship in the right direction, and again I want to make it clear that even those judges who didn’t make it are equally good, but at the end of the day one person was supposed to land the top post,” he said.
Another senior legal expert, Mr Thandaza Masiye-Moyo said: “I wish to congratulate the Chief Justice-designate for his appointment and I have no doubt that he has been a sterling performer and hard worker in this country.
“We have no doubt that he will serve the nation well in his new capacity. We certainly welcome this development and look forward to an exciting working relationship and mindful of the great development he has contributed to the jurisprudence of this country and the development of its laws.”
President Mugabe appointed DCJ Malaba as Chief Justice-designate with effect from March 27 and he will be sworn in as Chief Justice next week as he is out of the country on a Foreign Affairs assignment.
DCJ Malaba had been Acting Chief Justice since March 1 following the retirement of Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.
During the interviews in December last year, the Chief Justice-designate scored 92 percent, while Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) acting secretary Justice Rita Makarau garnered 90 percent and Justice Paddington Garwe came out third at 52 percent.
Under section 180 of the country’s Constitution, the Chief Justice is appointed by the President from a list of three nominees selected by the JSC following advertisements and the holding of public interviews.
In mid-October last year the JSC advertised the position extensively and invited the public including the President if he wished to nominate qualified persons.
The names of Justices Malaba, Makarau and Garwe were submitted to President Mugabe for his consideration according the country’s Constitution.
However, while the process was in motion, the High Court suspended public interviews for new Chief Justice pending proposed amendments to the Constitution, but the JSC appealed the decision at the Supreme Court.
Justice Charles Hungwe had barred the interviews following a successful application by University of Zimbabwe law student Mr Romeo Taombera Zibani to do away with the interviews and grant President Mugabe unfettered discretion to appoint a Chief Justice of his choice.
However, the JSC appeal suspended the decision of the High Court.
Justice Malaba has been a judge of the High Court, Supreme Court and Constitutional Court.