Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
President Mnangagwa has appointed Justice Priscilla Chigumba as new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson following consultations with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Parliament’s Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.
She will be sworn-in at State House today.
Justice Chigumba takes over from Justice Rita Makarau who resigned in December last year.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi confirmed the appointment and said the commission looking into the sale of State Land in and around urban areas since 2005 chaired by Justice Tendai Uchena that was appointed by former President Robert Mugabe in September will also be sworn-in during the same ceremony.
“Yes, she (Justice Chigumba) has been appointed the new ZEC chairperson and will be sworn-in at State House tomorrow together with the commission to investigate land barons,” Minister Ziyambi said.
Justice Chigumba obtained her law degree in the United Kingdom and joined Gollop and Blank law firm in 1994.
She practiced as a lawyer for six years before joining PG Industries as assistant company secretary and later formed her own law firm.
Justice Chigumba joined the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as a magistrate in 2004 and served as a resident and provincial magistrate before being seconded to work as a senior professional research assistant in the Office of the Chief Justice.
She was sworn in as Justice of the High Court in December 2012.
Her appointment comes at a time when ZEC is compiling a new voters’ roll ahead of harmonised elections to be held in five months time.
Members of the commission chaired by Justice Uchena that will also be sworn-in are Mr Andrew Mlalazi, Mr Stephen Chakaipa, Dr Tarisai Mutangi, Dr Heather Chingono, Ms Vimbai Nyemba and Ms Petronella Musarurwa.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza is the secretary to the Commission.
The commission of inquiry is expected to complete its work in September with an option of a further three-month extension, with a comprehensive report expected to be produced at the end of the inquiry.
The Commission’s terms of reference are:
(i) “To investigate and identify all State land in and around urban areas that was acquired and allocated to the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for urban development since 2005;
(ii) To investigate and ascertain the status of such land in terms of ownership, occupation and development; (c) to investigate methods of acquisition and/or allocation by current occupants and owners of such land;
(iii) To investigate and ascertain the actors involved in allocations, occupation and use of such land;
(v) To conduct visitations where necessary, summon witnesses, record proceedings, minute testimonies and document, consider and manage all information gathered in order to arrive at appropriate findings and recommendations to the President;
(vi) To investigate any other matter which the Commission of Inquiry may deem appropriate and relevant to the inquiry; to report to the President in writing, the result of the inquiry.”
The appointment of the Commission followed the mushrooming of illegal settlements in most urban areas, most of which were established from the illegal sale of State land by land barons.
This led to demolitions of residential structures in the past, prejudicing ordinary people of their hard-earned money.
Most of the settlements do not have water and sewer reticulation and infrastructure like roads, electricity, schools and clinics.