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Zimbabwe Govt Appeals Against High Court Ruling Blocking Malaba’s Extended 5-Year Term

FILE: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa,left, is congratulated by Chief Justice Luke Malaba after taking his oath during his inauguration ceremony at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018.

The Zimbabwean government has filed a notice of appeal against a High Court ruling forcing Chief Justice Luke Malaba to retire.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney General Prince Machaya filed the application to annul the decision on Monday amid tensions between the government, non-governmental organizations and opposition parties over Malaba’s retirement.

High Court justices Happias Zhou, Edith Mushore and Justice Jester Charewa erred on Saturday when they blocked the extension of Malaba’s term of office.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reports that the government is appealing against the entire judgment.

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.

The justice minister said the government won’t accept the High Court ruling, claiming that the judiciary has been captured by unkown hostile foreigners.

Advocate Mpofu claimed that Ziyambi’s remarks undermined the authority of 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.”