Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Some judges and lawyers who were yesterday publicly interviewed for the position of judges of the newly-established Sadc Administrative Tribunal shocked the public gallery when they confessed that they were not aware of the mandate and functions of the regional body.
Six aspiring candidates, four judges of the High Court and two legal practitioners, appeared before a five-member panel comprising commissioners of the Judicial Service Commission, seeking to be recommended to sit as judges of the Sadc Administrative Tribunal.
These were Justice Martin Makonese, Justice Francis Bere, Justice Nyaradzo Munangati-Manongwa, Mr Arthur Manase, Mr Charles Maunga and Justice Happias Zhou.
While two High Court judges correctly outlined the mandate of the Sadc Administrative Court and the judges’ functions, two others and one lawyer told the panellists that they only researched and accessed material on the mandate and functions of the disbanded Sadc Tribunal.
Harare lawyer Mr Maunga publicly confessed that he had come prepared to answer questions on the Sadc Tribunal, but realised in the middle of the interview that the position advertised was exclusively for the Sadc Administrative Court whose mandate was totally different.
This was after being grilled by Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba who chaired the panel. Mr Maunga said he did not carefully read the job advertisement which clearly indicated that the vacancies were for the Sadc Administrative Court.
“The position that I applied for was for a judge of the Sadc Tribunal and it turned out in the interview that the one advertised was for the judge of the Sadc Administrative Court,” he said during the interview.
“However, the Sadc Administrative Court has lesser challenges than the Sadc Tribunal that I had researched on.”
JSC commissioner Mr Josphat Tshuma, who was also a panellist told Mr Maunga point blank that he had misfired and questioned his ability to sit as a judge of the Sadc Administrative Court.
“Mr Maunga, you have not understood your mandate in terms of the Act,” he said.
“Do you think you will be able to play an advisory role to Sadc?”
Another candidate Justice Zhou said he had only managed to research on the mandate of the Sadc Tribunal and failed to get any material on the newly established Sadc Administrative Court.
Judge President George Chiweshe indicated to Justice Zhou that he had missed the point on the mandate of the tribunal in question.
“You have no idea what kind of job you are applying for. What is the mandate?” said Justice Chiweshe.
Justice Zhou replied: “It is to deal with the inter-States disputes involving obligations arising out of the Sadc treaty or any other protocols”.
The Judge President later informed Justice Zhou that the mandate was on labour disputes. Asked to distinguish between the Sadc Tribunal and the Sadc Administrative Court, another candidate Justice Makonese described the latter as “a new body that will deal with disputes in terms of the new mandate”.
The panel later brought it to his attention that the tribunal in question only dealt with labour matters.
In his closing remarks, Deputy Chief Justice Malaba said the panel was going to deliberate on the interviews and recommend two names for the post to the Government of Zimbabwe.
The two successful candidates will meet other 28 candidates from 14 Sadc countries in further interviews that will see only seven being appointed judges of the Sadc Administrative Court.