(Last Updated on October 17, 2020 by Editor)
… As President Mnangagwa removes Supreme Court Judge Francis Bere from the bench
HARARE – Suspended High Court Judge, Erica Ndewere refused to respond to Chief Justice, Luke Malaba’s letter of complaint against her, arguing that Malaba has no right to supervise her work.
Malaba had wrote a letter of complaint against Ndewere’s conduct after she granted bail to MDC-Alliance’s vice chairperson, Job Sikhala.
The High Court Judge reminded Malaba that the Constitution does not give him the right to supervise High Court judges.
Ndewere’s response referred to sections 163(2) and 163(3) of the Constitution, saying it was clear that the Judge President, in this case it’s Justice George Chiweshe who was in charge of the High Court, while Justice Malaba was in charge of the Supreme Court.
Ndewere’s lawyers, Sawyer and Mkushi argued that “the Judicial Service Commission does not have the legal authority to deal with complaints raised against the Honourable Ndewere. We direct your attention to Statutory Instrument 107 of 2012 and the provisions contained therein.
“The Chief Justice does not have the authority to direct the Judicial Service Commission to attend to any complaint against a sitting judge of the High Court,” Ndewere’s lawyers Sawyer and Mkushi said in response to the JSC dated September 30, 2020,” added the lawyers.
“The regulations which govern the handling of complaints are contained in Statutory Instrument 107 of 2012. In the result, section 187(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe is not applicable to the extent that there are no legal requirements for Ndewere to respond to your minute.”
Malaba is only supposed to handle the issue in the event that Justice Chiweshe fails to address the issue and refers it to him.
However, it is alleged that Justice Chiweshe refused to raise the complaint against Ndewere.
Three judges were supposed to be appointed and conduct a disciplinary hearing and make recommendations to Malaba before involving the JSC or President Mnangagwa.
So far the misconduct charges leveled against Ndewere have not yet been disclosed.
Sources close to the issue are saying Ndewere was also being accused of refusing to take Malaba’s orders, not to grant bail to Sikhala.
“Justice Ndewere is being victimised by Chief Justice Malaba for refusing to take his instructions not to grant bail to a prominent politician before she heard the case.
“Malaba threatened her with investigations when she told him that his instructions were unlawful and against the Constitution.”
Ndewere is the second judge to be suspended this year over allegations of misconduct.
Meanwhile Supreme Court Judge Francis Bere has also been removed from the bench by President Mnangagwa following recommendations made by the tribunal appointed to deal with his case.
He was facing allegations of ‘misconduct’
The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda made the announcement on Thursday.
Sibanda said in a statement “following advice from the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) that the question of removing Honourable Justice Francis Bere, ought to be investigated, the President, acting in terms of Section 187(3) of the Constitution appointed a tribunal to inquire into the question of removal from office of the said judge.
“The tribunal has completed it’s investigations and has recommended that Honourable Justice Bere be removed from office for the acts of gross misconduct.”
Justice Francis Bere of the Supreme Court recently had his matter concluded by a three-member tribunal. It was concluded in his absence after his lawyers walked out of the proceedings citing irregularities in the process.
Three months ago, Malaba wrote a memo to judges ordering them to submit all written judgments to him for scrutiny before delivery in court, but reversed the order after strong criticism from both local and international community.