CONFUSION over interviews for the Chief Justice position reigned supreme yesterday, after the High Court granted an order halting the process, but the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) plans to appeal the ruling and will meet today to decide the way forward.
The order follows an application by a fourth year University of Zimbabwe law student, Romeo Zibani, to have the public interviews suspended challenging the composition of the selection panel.
Zibani approached the High Court to compel Justice minister and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to amend section 180 of the Constitution to allow President Robert Mugabe to directly appoint the new Chief Justice.
Alternatively, Zibani wanted the public interviews to be conducted by an independent commission arguing the four nominees — Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Judicial Service Commission secretary, Justice Rita Makarau (pictured), Justice Paddington Garwe and Judge President George Chiweshe — compromised the JSC process.
Zibani’s challenge was also bolstered by an affidavit filed by the Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry permanent secretary, Virginia Mabhiza calling for the suspension of the interviews, arguing that the Constitution was being amended to allow Mugabe to hand-pick the Chief Justice.
High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe granted Zibani’s plea, adding he would give his reasons today.
“The provincial order is granted in terms of the amended draft,” Hungwe ruled.
Zibani’s lawyer, Sylvester Hashiti, said the interdict has been granted pending the finalisation of the motion to amend section 180 of the constitution.
However, JSC last night said it would note an appeal, which would suspend the interdict.
“The commission will be meeting on Monday (today) to decide whether to proceed with the interviews, as scheduled in light of the above developments or postpone the interviews pending determination of the appeal by the Supreme Court,” the JSC said in a statement.