HARARE – Newly appointed Chief Justice Mary Zimba-Dube was sworn in on Tuesday in the capital by the country’s Chief Justice, Luke Malaba.
On Sunday, Justice Mary Zimba-Dube was appointed as the new Chief Justice by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, taking over a post vacated by Justice George Chiweshe, who was promoted to the Supreme Court bench.
The new presiding judge was sworn in on Tuesday at a ceremony at the Harare Constitutional Court presided over by Malaba, who made his first public appearance since his controversial term extension in May this year.
On Sunday, Mnangagwa also appointed attorney Fortune Chimbaru as deputy attorney general. Prior to her promotion, she was director of the civil division of the attorney general’s office.
Mary Zimba-Dube dilemma
In appointing Zimba-Dube – who has served for 10 years – as presiding judge, Mnangagwa snubbed two senior judges – Justice Garainesu Mawadze of the Masvingo High Court and Justice Martin Makonese of the Bulawayo Supreme Court.
The election of a chief justice – who oversees the Supreme Court and assigns cases to judges – has become a hot political issue in Zimbabwe after Justice Minister Ziyambi allegedly accused Ziyambi in May of using hostile judges in cases in which the Zimbabwean government operates has been prosecuted.
Ziyambi’s outburst came after three High Court judges ruled that the alleged extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba‘s term beyond the retirement age of 70 was constitutionally void, before ordering May 15 let him be a judge and chief justice arrested. The government appealed.
Some legal observers saw Chiweshe’s “promotion” as an attempt by the government to regain control of the Supreme Court and secure favorable rulings.
Walter Chikwana, secretary of the Judicial Service Commission, said Zimba-Dube would be sworn in outside Malaba on Tuesday.