BY MOSES MATENGA/MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has fired Justice Erica Ndewere after a tribunal set up to investigate her found her guilty of misconduct.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda confirmed that Justice Ndewere had been fired for incompetence.
“The tribunal established to inquire into the question of removal from office of Honourable Justice Ndewere has completed its investigations,” Sibanda said in a statement.
“The tribunal has presented its findings to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of section 187(7) of the Constitution. The tribunal has recommended that Honourable Justice Ndewere be removed from office for gross incompetence.”
“His Excellency, the President, has accordingly, in terms of section 187(8) of the Constitution, removed Honourable Justice Ndewere from office with immediate effect.”
The Justice Simbi Mubako-led tribunal had recommended that she be stripped of her role as a High Court judge.
Other members of the tribunal were lawyers Charles Warara and Yvonne Masvora.
Ndewere’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said she was yet to receive the report.
“I am also busy asking around because I am reading it on social media. I have not received anything. I don’t know whether it’s true or not. I called one of the members of the tribunal’s office and was only told that he had gone to State House on tribunal business, so I am assuming that there must be truth in it from what has happened at State House,” Mtetwa said.
The tribunal found Ndewere guilty on two counts of misconduct.
Ndewere was suspended on November 5 last year for allegedly failing to complete 28 reviews and eight reserved judgments by May 18, 2020.
Her suspension was viewed as political and a manifestation of fights against alleged interference by Chief Justice (CJ) Luke Malaba.
In her evidence to the tribunal, Ndewere claimed JSC staff members were spying on judges.
Ndewere said JSC staffers circumvented Judge President George Chiweshe by directly reporting to CJ Malaba about the conduct of the judges.
Her dismissal has angered some lawyers who took to social media to suggest judicial capture and silencing of independent judges.
MDC Alliance deputy chairman and lawyer Job Sikhala, who was granted bail by Ndewere, said: “One of the most impartial adjudicators in Zimbabwe who stood her ground against the forces of judicial capture has been forced off the bench.”
Analyst Earnest Mudzengi said: “Another wave of purging independent-minded members of the Judiciary is upon us.”
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa yesterday appointed a tribunal to determine Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa’s fitness to hold the office of High Court judge after nude pictures allegedly from his phone went viral on social media earlier this year.
The pictures exposed his alleged affair with Oratile Nare, a female staff member at the Bulawayo High Court.
The three-member tribunal will be chaired by retired Justice Maphios Cheda and investigations will be carried out over five months.
Chaka Mashoko, a procedural law lecturer and lawyer Phillipa Magnify Philips are the other members of the panel.
The tribunal will investigate whether or not Mabhikwa committed acts of sexual harassment or possessed pornographic material.
It is alleged that Nare forwarded pictures from Mabhikwa’s phone to a judges’ WhatsApp group and contacts in his phone after she had discovered that the judge was in an affair with another woman.
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