Harare, (New Ziana) – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday swore into office a three-member tribunal to look into
the suitability of suspended High Court Judge, Justice Erica Ndewere to continue holding office.
Retired Justice Simbi Mubako chairs the team, which also includes lawyers Charles Warara and Yvnonne Masvora to look into allegations raised by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) against the judge.
The JSC accuses Justice Ndewere of behaviour that is inconsistent with a judicial officer and for failing to deliver on her duties, resulting in her having a large batch of delayed judgements.
The JSC also contends the judge “freed” a thief in a particular case forwarded from a lower case without having properly studied the merits of the case.
The prisoner had, however, served his sentence by the time Justice Ndewere made the ruling.
The Constitution provides that a judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, due to mental or physical incapacity, or gross incompetence, or gross misconduct. Otherwise judges serve until retirement or resignation.
According to the Constitution, the President has no choice but to appoint a tribunal once asked to do so by the JSC.
Administering the oath of office for the tribunal, President Mnangagwa said the JSC had requested for the setting up of the tribunal in a letter dated on October 9, 2020.
The tribunal has five months to look into the allegations and advise the President on the way forward.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi said appointment of the tribunal was “a good sign that our system was working” in keeping checks and balances on the performance of the judiciary.
“It is very good for our judicial system, it allows those in office to up their game and live according to what the Constitution experts them to do,” he said.
He said the tribunal gave the judge, who according to reports, felt she was being victimised, a chance to defend her conduct.
“Setting up of a tribunal does not mean one has been removed from office but is to enquire into the question of one’s suitability (to continue holding office),” he said.