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Zimbabwe Justice Minister Facing Accusations of Contempt of Court Over Chief Justice Malaba's Removal from Office

Ziyambi Ziyambi, Zimbabwe’s justice minister. Photo taken in May 2019 in Chinhoyi town. (C. Mavhunga/VOA)
Ziyambi Ziyambi, Zimbabwe’s justice minister. Photo taken in May 2019 in Chinhoyi town. (C. Mavhunga/VOA)

Lawyers representing one of the organizations that secured a High Court ruling leading to the removal of Chief Justice Malaba from office, have filed a complaint to the Registrar, judge president and Judicial Service Commission, accusing Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi of contempt of court.

Thabani Mpofu, Tendai Biti and others, who are representing the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum executive director Musa Kika, say Ziyambi uttered vicious remarks soon after the ruling by three High Court judges, which undermined the judges and Zimbabwe’s judiciary.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare today, Mpofu said Ziyambi should account for his remarks as they undermine the country’s constitution and the judiciary.

He said, "Owing to the gravity of the matter we wish to advise that we have firm instructions from our consultant to take the necessary action, including the institution of proceedings for contempt of court should the law not be faithfully and scrupulously adhered to.

“…"A letter has been written to the Registrar of the High Court, the Judge President, and the honorable justices who dealt with the matter requesting the issuance of a citation for contempt of court against the minister. The legal issues that arise from this matter must, therefore, be dealt with in the High Court. We believe the minister must show cause, why the High Court must not hold him to be in contempt of court."

He noted that the High Court order still stands despite the government’s appeal.

"Whilst an appeal can, all things being equal, be lodged against a declaratur, the position in law is that an appeal does not suspend the operation of the declaratur.”

Ziyambi said the government won’t accept the High Court ruling, claiming that the judiciary has been captured by unknown hostile foreigners, non-governmental organizations, opposition parties, foreigners and others with a regime-change agenda.

Ziyambi has not yet reacted to the accusations of contempt of court.

Malaba ceased to be the chief justice following the High Court order in which 16 judges are cited as respondents. Malaba turned 70 on Saturday.

Independent human rights lawyer, Nqobani Sithole, said Zimbabwe has been plunged into a constitutional crisis following the High Court ruling.