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High Court Rules That Luke Malaba No Longer Zimbabwe's Chief Justice

Opening of Legal Year 2019 - Chief Justice Luke Malaba
Opening of Legal Year 2019 - Chief Justice Luke Malaba

BREAKING NEWS: The High Court has ruled that Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, retired has retired as per some provisions of the country’s constitution.

In a tweet, the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe (YLAZ) said three High Court judges presiding over the matter ruled that “the court makes the following order … The CJ (Chief Justice) ceased to hold the as 15/15/21. Extension of the time provided for in Section 186 does not apply to CJ and any sitting but not acting Judges of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court and there shall be no order as to costs.”

YLAZ and a war veteran, 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 yesterday as Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Judicial Service Commission attempted to stop the judges, Justice Jester Charewa, Justice Happias Zhou and Justice Edith Mushore from presiding over the case, 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.