Bulawayo mayor Thaba Moyo says he was humiliated by Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba when the judge did not recognise him at the official opening of the 2011 legal year on Monday.
This was in stark contrast to the reception and recognition accorded Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda at a similar event held in the capital.
What angered Moyo of the MDC-T was that Justice Malaba acknowledged the presence of every other dignitary except him.
Among those present were Vice-President John Nkomo, Bulawayo resident minister Cain Mathema, who was seated in the front row next to the mayor, ministers Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and Gorden Moyo, Bulawayo Central MP Dorcas Sibanda, as well as other dignitaries, including the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Josphat Tshuma.
Moyo reacted saying: “I don’t know why he (Justice Malaba) did that. I was actually sitting directly facing him and he recognised those who were sitting next to me. I don’t know what they wanted to prove.”
The mayor said after the ceremony he met Justice Malaba and Justice Sello Nare, Judge President of the Bulawayo Labour Court, and raised his concerns.
“(Justice) Malaba told me that my name was not on the list and that’s why he did not mention me. It is surprising because even if my name was not there he knows me. All of them know me,” he said.
The mayor declined to speculate on the reasons for the snub saying: “I can’t commit myself and say that it was deliberate, but it’s embarrassing.
These things should not be repeated in future. They should sort out their line of protocol to avoid such embarrassment.”
He said “to err is human”.
“I am a leader; I don’t get angry over petty issues,” Moyo said. “All I was doing was attending the ceremony on behalf of citizens and I didn’t expect that to happen. They are human beings, human beings make mistakes. I give them the benefit of the doubt since this is the first time for that to happen.”
The Master of the High Court Njabulo Mabuya then calmed the enraged mayor during a reception held later in the day, telling him: “Sorry, the problem was with the people who submitted names to Justice Malaba. They are the ones who did not include your name.”
“Okay, but it’s embarrassing,” Moyo replied before walking away.
Justice Malaba was officiating at the official opening of the 2011 legal year where he chided prosecutors for allegedly abusing court processes by delaying setting down criminal appeals before the High Court, effectively deferring the bench from determining cases.