Mugabe to appoint 4 Supreme Court judges

After approving Harare demos, Justice Priscilla Chigumba applies for Supreme Court job

Lovemore Lubinda|zimnewsnet

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will later this month conduct public interviews of eight candidates for appointment by President Robert Mugabe as Supreme Court judges, there are four vacancies in the highest court of the land that have to be filled.

Public interviews are a constitutional requirement, outlined in section 180 of the constitution that will in the due course see the President choosing new Supreme Court judges from the list submitted to him by JSC.

All the eight candidates to be interviewed are serving High Court Judges. The eight judges to be interviewed are Justice Charles Hungwe, Justice Lavender Makoni, Justice Alfas Chitakunye, Justice Francis Bere, Justice Samuel Kudya, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, Justice Joseph Mafusire, and Justice Priscilla Chigumba.

While JSC is expected to conduct its business in a fair, just, and transparent manner, the Constitution does not go into detail about how it should fulfil its section 180 mandate in relation to the appointment of judges. It says little, for instance, about the handling of the nominations the JSC receives or how it should conduct the public interviews of candidates for judicial appointments.

However, there are guidelines by the JSC to be followed, some of which entails that a list of the nominees to be submitted to the Law Society of Zimbabwe and other relevant organisations for comments on their professional conduct to be taken into account in assessing them. There are also provisions for comments from the general public following publication of the list of nominees.

Comments from members of the public should be submitted in writing to the JSC as soon as possible, to allow the JSC time to inform nominees about adverse comments.

Questions will not necessarily entail uniformity of questions or interview length, candidates may be asked questions about comments received from the Law Society or members of the public, unlike the rigid mechanical procedure adopted by parliament for public interviews for candidates for appointment as members of the independent constitutional commissions. Under this much criticised procedure questions and interview length is uniform, with a set list of standard questions formulated before hand and no deviation is entertained.

Though the guidelines say nothing about televising the interviews, Veritas Zimbabwe is of the view that doing so would enhance transparency and promote citizens’ confidence and pride in their judicial system.

The these appointment to the Supreme Court comes high on the heels of the recent attacks on the judiciary for according citizens their democratic rights to protests, by President Mugabe, after the High Court sanctioned demonstrations against his government.