BY CHARLES LAITON/VANESSA GONYE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday fired Supreme Court judge Justice Francis Bere, who has been under tribunal investigation for alleged misconduct.
Justice Bere was accused of having interfered in a civil case involving the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara).
He is said to have called Harare lawyer Itayi Ndudzo and asked him to consider settling a civil dispute between Zinara and Fremus Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, linked to the judge’s relatives.
Early last year, Mnangagwa appointed, on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), a tribunal comprising retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako, Harare lawyer Rekayi Maphosa, Takawira Nzombe and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs secretary Virginia Mabiza to decide on Justice Bere’s suitability to continue holding the office of a judge.
The tribunal, however, later made recommendations to have Justice Bere relieved of his official duties and then communicated to Mnangagwa who yesterday fired him from the bench.
“Following the advice of the JSC that the question of removing honourable Justice Francis Bere ought to be investigated, the President, acting in terms of section 187(3) of the Constitution, appointed, through proclamation number 1/2020, a tribunal to inquire into the question of removal from office of the said judge,” read a statement from the Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda.
“The tribunal has completed its investigations and has recommended that honourable Justice Bere be removed from office for acts of gross misconduct. His Excellence the President, accordingly, acting in terms of section 187(8) of the Constitution, has removed the honourable judge from office with immediate effect.”
When the JSC made a decision to advise Mnangagwa that the question of removing Justice Bere from the office of a judge ought to be investigated, Justice Bere challenged the move on the basis that it had made a sudden U-turn after initially clearing him of the same offence in November 2018.
Justice Bere’s review application was then placed before Justice Benjamin Chikowero, who after deliberating on the matter dismissed it with costs, saying the decision to determine whether or not Justice Bere committed gross misconduct, was not for him to make.