President Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired Supreme Court judge Justice Francis Bere on the recommendation of a tribunal set up to probe his suitability to continue in office following allegations of gross misconduct.
Mnangagwa appointed the tribunal in March after lawyer Itai Ndudzo of Mutamangira and Associates alleged that the judge had called him on his phone telling him to settle a civil dispute out of court. Ndudzo was representing the Zimbabwe Road Administration (Zinara) in a case against a company called Fremus Enterprises, which is linked to Bere’s relatives.
The tribunal was chaired by retired judge Simbi Mubako who was assisted by lawyers Advocate Takawira Nzombe and Rekayi Maphosa.
Announcing the decision by Mnangagwa to fire the judge yesterday, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda said Bere’s dismissal, which Mnangagwa effected in accordance with the recommendation of the Mubako tribunal, is with immediate effect.
“Following the advice of the Judicial Service Commission that the question of removing the hounourable Justice Francis Bere JA ought to be investigated the president, acting in terms of Section 187(3) of the constitution, appointed through proclamation number 1 od 2020, a tribunal to inquire into the question of the removal from office of the said judge. The tribunal has completed its investigations and has recommended that Honourable Justice Francis Bere JA be removed from office for acts of gross misconduct,” Sibanda said in a press statement yesterday.
“His Excellency the President, accordingly, acting in terms of Section 187(3) of the constitution, has removed the honourable judge from office with immediate effect.”
Justice Bere was being represented by top lawyers Lovemore Madhuku and Lewis Uriri.
Part of Ndudzo’s complaint read: “The learned judge indeed contacted me telephonically. The commercial dispute between my client (Zinara) and Fremus Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd was discussed in the course of the conversation. The learned judge’s relatives are co-directors of Fremus Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd. The learned judge inquired whether or not there would be possibility of payment being expedited to Fremus (Pvt) Ltd. I declined the request and the conversation ended abruptly on that note.”