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Mnangagwa Extends Chief Justice Malaba's Term of Office Amid Concerns Over Diminishing Judiciary Independence

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa is congratulated by the Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, after taking the oath of office during his presidential inauguration ceremony in Harare, Aug. 26, 2018.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has extended the term of office of Chief Justice Luke Malaba saying the 70-year-old is physically and mentally capable of remaining in office for the next five years.

In a letter written to the country’s top legal officer, chief Cabinet secretary, Misheck Sibanda, said Mnangagwa decided to extend Malaba’s term of office in terms of Zimbabwean laws.

“His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, has considered your election to continue in the office of Chief Justice beyond the age of seventy years for an additional period of five (5) years. He has further considered and accepted the medical report which you submitted as proof of your mental and physical fitness to continue in that office.

Sibanda said the appointment was done in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission and in accordance with section 186(1) of the Zimbabwe Constitution.

Parliament recently passed the Zimbabwe Constitution Amendment Bill (Number 2), which the president signed into law a few days ago.

Critics of the government say Mnangagwa’s move will cripple the judiciary arm of the state.