Tsvangirai lawyers off the hook

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Morgan Tsvangirai

THE Supreme Court yesterday ruled that High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu had erred and misdirected himself when he recommended the prosecution of human rights lawyers over an alleged criticism of judicial officers.

BY COURT REPORTERS

This was after MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s lawyers Advocate Lewis Uriri, Tarisai Mutangi and Alec Muchadehama had filed two urgent chamber applications in the Electoral Court seeking access to some voting materials to prove alleged electoral fraud in the July 31 elections which were won by President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.

In a judgment delivered on August 20, 2013, Justice Bhunu ordered the prosecution of the former prime minister’s lawyers “for bringing the integrity of the judiciary into disrepute”. Tsvangirai later withdrew his presidential election petition citing reservations over some judges whom he alleged were not independent from the executive.

Justice Bhunu not only dismissed Tsvangirai’s request to be furnished with some election and voting materials, but launched an attack on the MDC-T leader describing him as someone of an “unbalanced” mindset.

He also went on to urge the country’s prosecuting authorities to act against his lawyers.

The judge had claimed that the lawyers had acted unethically after they sought to rely on an MDC-T dossier criticising the judiciary and recommended that the “errant” lawyers be “reigned in” for bringing the “court’s integrity into disrepute”.

He advised the Registrar of the High Court to serve a copy on the then Attorney-General (AG) Johannes Tomana “for appropriate action according to the law”.

But Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with judges of appeal, justices Paddington Garwe and Ben Hlatshwayo, who yesterday heard Tsvangirai’s appeal against Bhunu’s judgment, set aside the part of the High Court order in which Justice Bhunu had recommended the prosecution of the lawyers.

The Supreme Court said according to the court procedure Justice Bhunu should not have given a determination on a matter which he had ruled as being not urgent.

“Once a court gives a decision that the matter is not urgent, the law requires that the matter be referred to the registrar for set-down and to be heard before another judge,” Justice Malaba said.

Part of the Supreme Court order reads: “The appeal against the judgment of the court aquo succeeds with no order as to costs to the extent that the part of the order referring the allegedly contemptuous order of appellant and his legal practitioners, who represented him in the application with the court aquo, to be referred to AG for investigations and the part of the order directing the appellant and the legal practitioners to pay costs, be and is hereby set aside.

“Order of the court aquo is amended to read; the application in case number EC27/13 and EC28/13 are not urgent and are accordingly removed from the roll with costs on the ordinary scale.”

In his application, Tsvangirai had cited Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, chief elections officer Lovemore Sekeramayi, Zec, Registrar-General of Voters Tobaiwa Mudede and President Robert Mugabe as respondents.

These were being represented by Tawanda Kanengoni, Charles Nyika, Chandavengerwa Chipamba and Advocate Terence Hussein.

4 COMMENTS

  1. There is not a case more trying to one’s nerves than to analyses Justice Bhunu’s verdicts. He wants to create this idea of infallibility in people known as judges. He wants all the people to believe that judges are saints that incapable doing wrong and hence are sacrosanct from any criticism. This is despite the fact that almost all his rulings of a political nature are glaringly in favour of Zanupf. Even as he would read this comment, I can sense a burning in his heart to have me jailed for making these comments. All he cherish is for judges to do whatever they do and no one must cough. Now that Judge Malaba has urinated on his ruling on Tsvangurayi’s lawyers, what does he feel. Does he still want us to regard him as infallible? If he needs promotion, it must come on merit, and not in making judgements that are obviously laden with emotions and ulterior motives. To Judge Malaba, I wonder why you are the chief justice. I will ever remember your courageous, researched, judicious, erudite, factual, reasoned, and elaborately eloquent judgement you arrived at and published, though in the minority, when other constitutional judges ruled that elections were to done within 30 days last year. When your name is mentioned, I become proud to be a Zimbabwean.

  2. Justice Malaba for Chief Justice. Always astute and well reasoned pronouncements. He reminds me of Justice Sandura, that doyen of the yesteryear bench

  3. hmmm, Justice Malaba is playing with his life. Bhunu and Zanu don’t tolerate to be told the truth. Start making peace with the Lord for you will meet him soon!. i know i will be labeled a coward but iZanu lenyoka, the most dangerous creatures on earth’s surface. Beware!

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