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Zimbabwe Unity Partners Open Fire on Judicial Appointee of President Mugabe


An MDC statement said the “unilateral and arrogant appointment is clear reward” for what the former opposition party charges was George Chiweshe’s rigging of the 2008 presidential election on behalf of Mr. Mugabe

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change formation on Friday opened fire on former electoral official George Chiweshe, named High Court president by President Robert Mugabe.

President Robert Mugabe on Thursday swore in former High Court Judge President Rita Makarau as a member of the Supreme Court, naming in her place Chiweshe, former chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Sworn in with Chiweshe were Andrew Mutema, Garainesu Mawadze and Nicholas Manthosi.

An MDC statement said the “unilateral and arrogant appointment is clear reward” for what the party charges was Chiweshe’s rigging of the 2008 presidential election on behalf of Mr. Mugabe.

It said Chiweshe's reputation is tarnished by his record as head of the Electoral Commission, which withheld results of the presidential race for six weeks. The party charged that Chiweshe “actively colluded in electoral malpractices which cost no less than 500 lives and he proceeded to declare the election as free and fair.”

The MDC said the appointment casts further doubt on the independence of the judiciary.

Chiweshe could not be reached for comment.

MDC Legal Affairs Secretary Innocent Gonese said Chiweshe's appointment was unilateral and violated the Global Political Agreement signed in September 2008 by all parties in the current government of national unity.

ZANU-PF officials have said Mr. Mugabe had the right to make judicial appointments without consulting Mr. Tsvangirai, maintaining that under the constitution the president may only consult the Judicial Service Commission.

Elsewhere, the Mutare clerk of court on Friday returned the passport of MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett. The document was believed to have been seized by prosecutor Michael Mugabe last March.

Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told VOA that the passport was only returned after she filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking the immediate release of the passport from the Attorney General's office.

The passport had been surrendered to the Mutare Clerk of Court as part of his bail conditions. Bennett was acquitted of treason charges last week but the state has appealed the judgment to the Supreme Court.

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