Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
President Mugabe is a great pride of the nation and a source of inspiration to many people including his enemies, Retired Chief Justice Godfrey Guwa Chidyausiku has said.
He made the remarks at a farewell dinner hosted for him by the Judicial Service Commission in Harare on Tuesday.
Justice Chidyausiku’s tenure of office ended on Tuesday after serving as the head of Judiciary for 16 years after reaching the mandatory 70 years of age last week.
He told the gathering that President Mugabe’s sense of propriety was beyond reproach.
“I do not think there is anybody in my generation who fails to be inspired by His Excellency, the President,” said Justice Chidyausiku.
“He (President Mugabe) is the kind of person who inspires people whether you like it or not, even his enemies talk well of him.
“He is the single Zimbabwean, I can say wh has provided more inspiration to me than anybody else.”
The former Chief Justice said during his tenure as either a judge, Attorney-General or Chief Justice, President Mugabe never influenced his decisions.
“On occasions, I did brief him on what was going on,” said Justice Chidyausiku.
“He just listened without comments and he would never ever attempt to influence you.”
The former Chief Justice took the occasion to reflect on his successes and challenges he faced during his more than 40-year-long career, as a lawyer, attorney-general, and in the judiciary.
He spoke of the decentralisation of the High Court, the work he left unfinished, transformation of the Judicial Service Commission and the decisions made by his bench.
He highlighted the role he played in the land reform programme as a major achievement in his career as Chief Justice.
Justice Chidyausiku expressed no regret on the landmark decision he made on the land case, which ended up at the disbanded Sadc Tribunal in Namibia.
The Retired Chief Justice said he belonged to the generation that fought the liberation struggle to correct the historical land imbalances.
“The most satisfying thing to me is the role that I played in the land reform programme,” he said.
“Some people believe the judiciary was not independent because some of the judgments were perceived to be in favour of the Government.
“But the real reason is, I belong to that generation that fought for this country. And that is what really impressed my perception, not that I wanted to please anybody.”
The former Chief Justice said both his paternal and maternal grandfathers Chief Chinamhora and Chief Chiweshe respectively, lost land to the colonial regime.
To this end, he said, it would have been betrayal to the ancestry if he had not performed a key role in the land reform programme, as the head of the judiciary.
Justice Chidyausiku singled the discord over his successor as the biggest disappointment in his professional career.
“There are times when things are not going the way they should. One of them (disappointments) is the way we are quarrelling about my successor,” he said.
“It’s a big disappointment, but it is nothing that we cannot overcome. I am sure we will overcome it without any difficulty. My view is, there is really no dispute, there is really no issue. With the passage of time, things are going to fall into place.
“I would have wanted to leave one, very united judiciary that is fearless, independent and with the back bone of steel.”
Justice Chidyausiku was appointed as Zimbabwe’s new Chief Justice in July 2001.
Born on February 23, 1947 in Domboshava, Chief Justice Chidyausiku attended Mutake School at Makumbi Mission, and then St Ignatius College in Chishawasha.
He got a place at the then University of Rhodesia from 1968 to 1972 where he read law. He then went into private legal practice.
At the 1974 general election, Justice Chidyausiku won the Harare African Roll Constituency, standing with the unofficial support of the African National Council which had been set up by Zanu, Zapu and Frolizi.
He acted in opposition to the government of Ian Douglas Smith.
Justice Chidyausiku stood down at the 1977 election.
In the 1980 election, Chief Justice Chidyausiku was elected as 12th on Zanu-PF’s list for Mashonaland East Province when Zanu-PF won 14 seats.
He was Deputy Minister in the then Ministry of Local Government and Housing and of Justice from 1980, and was promoted to be Attorney-General in 1982.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku was later promoted to be a judge and served as chair of the constitutional convention charged with drafting a new Constitution for Zimbabwe in 2000.
After the resignation of former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, Chief Justice Chidyausiku was named as Zimbabwe’s new Chief Justice in July 2001.