The High Court is still in session in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, following the dismissal of a an application filed by Justice Minister and Judicial Service Commission for three presiding judges to recuse themselves from a case in which local lawyers and a war veteran are challenging the extension of Chief Justice Malaba’s term of office by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
According to a VOA Correspondent, deliberations are ongoing at the court where the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe (YLAZ) and Frederick Mutanda, a liberation war veteran, filed an urgent chamber application at Harare High Court seeking an order to stop Chief Justice Luke Malaba from continuing as the head of the Constitutional Court.
The court adjourned for a couple of hours as Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Judicial Service Commission attempted to stop the judges, particularly Zhou, from handling the case.
In the application filed by Honey & Blanckenberg Legal Practitioners, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, YLAZ and Mutanda argued that Chief Justice Malaba ought not to benefit from the term extension provisions as introduced by the amendment of the Constitution since he has served 15 years as a Judge of the Constitutional Court.
YLAZ and Mutanda argued that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which is cited as the first respondent, failed to discharge its constitutional obligations diligently and without delay as was and now is required in law and as provided in section 324 of the Constitution.
YLAZ contended that if Chief Justice Malaba continues in office there would be no Constitutional Court in Zimbabwe thereby pushing the country into a constitutional crisis because he would have retained power in clear contravention of section 328(7) of the Constitution.
In a supporting affidavit filed together with the urgent chamber application, Mutanda argued that government is reversing the gains and fruits of the liberation struggle such as the Constitution.
YLAZ and Mutanda want the High Court to declare that in failing to activate the provisions of section 180 of the Constitution diligently and without delay, the JSC violated section 324 of the Constitution.
They also want Chief Justice Malaba not to benefit from the term limit extension as introduced by an amendment of section 186 of the Constitution and for him to vacate office as the chief justice at midnight on May 15, 2021.
In the alternative, YLAZ and Mutanda want section 14 of Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.2) Act, 2021, to be declared invalid for violating section 56(3) of the Constitution and be struck down.
High Court Judges Justice Jester Charewa, Justice Happias Zhou and Justice Edith Mushore are presiding over the case.