Ex-lawyer’s comeback bid hits brick wall

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Godwills Masimirembwa’s attempts to seek re-registration as a practising lawyer has hit a brick wall because the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) sees no evidence that the infamous price controller is no longer the character that was blacklisted 13 years ago.

NewsDay has it on good authority that Masimirembwa sent a notice of intent to apply for re-admission to the bar but the notice was met with overwhelming disapproval.

Masimirembwa, who was chairman of the defunct National Incomes and Pricing Commission was struck off the register of legal practitioners, notaries and conveyances by the legal disciplinary tribunal for unprofessional and dishonourable conduct in 1997.

At the height of Zimbabwe’s economic melt-down, President Robert Mugabe appointed him chairman of the commission that was to preside over price controls that left the country’s shop shelves bare.

Vice-president of the law society Tinoziva Bere confirmed this week that a notice had been circulated to LSZ members advising them of Masimirembwa’s intention to apply for re-registration.

“The facts are that the Secretary of the Law Society of Zimbabwe received the notice of Mr Masimirembwa’s intention to apply for re-registration. And, in accordance with LSZ policy, he circulated the notice and asked members to respond,” Bere said.

Only two members responded expressing no objection while the rest did not support the application and, in fact, wrote to state strong objections and their reasons, he said.

“The reasons ranged from complaints that there had been outstanding complaints from the time of de-registration, to complaints of practising law during the period of de-registration and acts of misconduct during de-registration.

“Some related to failure to account for trust funds and others were on conduct during purported representation of certain clients who assumed he was a lawyer and suffered prejudice or felt their rights had been compromised,” said Bere.

The matter was then referred to the LSZ’s relevant committee which made its recommendation to council for consideration and decision.

The council, said Bere, made the decision to reject the application.

The LSZ had gone further to instruct its legal practitioners Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans to oppose Masimirembwa’s application, even if he took the matter to court.

“If the application were filed, council would oppose on the grounds that there is no evidence of rehabilitation but rather there is evidence of continuation of practice of law while deregistered.

“Put simply, Law Society found that Mr Masimirembwa’s public standing and credibility is questionable to such an extent that the profession cannot agree that he is now a fit and proper person to be re-registered as a legal practitioner,” said Bere.

Masimirembwa was accused of, among other inadequacies, failing to keep proper books of accounts and to comply with the requirements of book by-laws.

Efforts to obtain comment from Masimirembwa were fruitless.