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New Furor in Zimbabwe Unity Gov't as President Mugabe Unilaterally Names Judges

  • Mark Nthambe

President Mugabe swore in former High Court Judge President Rita Makarau as a Supreme Court justice, replacing her as top High Court justice with George Chiweshe, former chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission

The uneasy partners in Zimbabwe's national unity government have one more issue to divide them: President Robert Mugabe's appointment this week of a new Supreme Court judge and four High Court judges without consultation with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, to which his Movement for Democratic Change immediately objected.

President Mugabe swore in former High Court Judge President Rita Makarau as a Supreme Court justice, replacing her as top High Court justice with George Chiweshe, former chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Chiweshe was in charge of counting ballots and compiling results in the controversial 2008 elections when his panel was criticized for its delay of more than a month in announcing the outcome of the presidential race (it declared that opposition leader Tsvangirai had failed to receive a majority of votes and said a runoff would be required).

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

ZANU-PF sources responded that there was no need for Mr. Mugabe consult Mr. Tsvangirai or Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, the third principal in the government established under the September 2008 Global Political Agreement, as constitutionally the president is only allowed to consult with the Judicial Service Commission.

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said the party was dismayed by the new appointments. ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said President Mugabe has the right to name judges.

Elsewhere in politics, VOA Studio 7 correspondent Mark Peter Ntambe reported that opposition Mavambo party leader Simba Makoni, a former presidential candidate, said the unity government is neither united nor inclusive and is not serving the Zimbabwean people, concluding that its failure to function properly obliges early elections.

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