CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday expressed concern over the “proliferation” of media reports on matters still pending before the courts, saying this violated the rule of sub judice.
BY OUR STAFF
In a statement issued on his behalf by acting chief registrar Munamato Mutevedzi, Chidyausiku urged the media to desist from such practice.
“The Chief Justice notes with concern the proliferation in the public media of inappropriate comments on matters pending before the courts, contrary to the time-honoured and internationally accepted practice of refraining from publicly commenting on matters that are sub judice,” he said.
He said although he appreciated that matters of public interest could be covered by the media, such reports should not derail the due process.
“However, such reports or comments must not seek to, or be perceived as seeking to prejudice, influence or interfere with the due administration of justice or the fair trials of the matters reported on,” Chidyausiku said.
He assured the public that all matters before the courts would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Chidyausiku’s remarks come in the wake of veiled threats issued by President Robert Mugabe to the judiciary following a decision by former Zanu PF officials Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo to sue Mugabe over their expulsion from the party.
Speaking at the official opening of Africa Chrome Fields’ smelting plant in Zibagwe last Friday, Mugabe said the court application that Mutasa and Gumbo had filed against him and the ruling party was erroneous because only the party could deal with the issue.
He said no qualified judge would accept to hear the case.
Following the remarks, legal experts among them constitutional law expert and University of Zimbabwe lecturer Lovemore Madhuku were quoted urging Chidyausiku to issue a statement demanding that the executive stop interfering with the judiciary.
“What his lawyers should do when they go to court is to raise the issue that Mugabe’s remarks, as one of the respondents, were inappropriate as the matter is sub judice, and therefore his defence in court should be dismissed on that basis,” he said.