Chief Justice Malaba stays put
Harare (New Ziana) -The Constitutional Court on Wednesday nullified the High Court judgement that disqualified Chief Justice Luke Malaba from serving another five year term until the age of 75.
Judges in Zimbabwe are allowed to serve up to the age of 70, but can prolong their stay in office under a presidential prerogative. Chief Justice Malaba turned 70 last year, but was asked to continue in office by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The extension of the top judge’s term prompted strong opposition from a cross-section of political activists, who later petitioned the High Court to overturn the presidential decision.
But a Bulawayo man, Marx Mapungu in turn petitioned the Constitutional Court to overturn the lower court‘s ruling that had said that the Chief Justice was in office unconstitutionally.
Speaking to journalists, Prof Lovemore Madhuku, who was acting for the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in the case, said the court had set aside the High Court judgement that the Chief Justice was improperly in office.
“There was a bit of misunderstanding in some circles, people thought that judgement could actually be implemented, which is why you might have seen some people going to the High Court for contempt of court and so on.
“What the court has done is first to tell the whole country that in fact that order given by the High Court was an order declaring invalid what the President had done in approving the election of the Chief Justice to continue in office in terms of the Constitution.
He added: “Secondly, the Constitutional Court has refused to confirm that order and that it has set it aside.”
Madhuku said the Constitutional Court had explained that there was never any problem with Chief Justice Luke Malaba being the Chief Justice.
“As things stand, the Chief Justice is properly elected to remain in office up to the age of 75 and the President properly approved that election. It has always been constitutional,” he said.