Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Experts have hailed the appointment of five high-calibre judges to the High Court bench this week after gruelling public interviews that took place last month. Justices Evangelista Kabasa, Christopher Dube-Banda, Siyabona Musithu, Sunsley Zisengwe and Webster Chinamora took their oath of office before Chief Justice Luke Malaba, at a brief ceremony in Harare on Wednesday.
They had an incredible performance during the public interviews in which they validated their judicial intelligence, in front of the entire nation.
The interviews were live-streamed.
Veteran lawyer Mr Sternford Moyo said the appointing authority, President Mnangagwa, appeared to have kept his eye on recommendations and advice from the JSC.
“The spirit and objective of constitutional provisions which provide for the involvement and participation of the JSC in the appointment process was to ensure that appointees have values and attributes critical to an effective administration of justice,” said Mr Moyo, a senior partner at Scanlen and Holderness Law Practice.
“It is, therefore, imperative that the constitutional provisions are observed as was done by the JSC and the President.
“It is our hope and expectation that the new judges will discharge their functions with independence, competence, integrity, humility and equanimity.”
Harare-based lawyer Mr Itai Ndudzo said given the background and calibre of the newly appointed judges, lawyers and other stakeholders should expect judgments that will enrich the country’s jurisprudence to conspicuously epitomise a modern justice system.
“Perception is everything in the court of public opinion and, therefore, the strict adherence to meritocracy by the appointing authority gives great confidence to us as practitioners that we will win or lose cases purely on merit considerations before the new judges.”
Another prominent lawyer and politician, Mr Obert Gutu, said all the five judges are all legal practitioners of integrity and competence, who came out tops during the JSC interviews.
“Accordingly, the President appointed them to the High Court bench. There was neither favouritism nor nepotism,” he said.
“These new appointees acquitted themselves extremely well during the JSC interviews and they have since been given the honour of becoming High Court judges. That is as it should be.”
Mr Gutu, however, accused some people of being fond of scandalising the judiciary by always unjustifiably accusing it of being politicised and biased in favour of the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
He said his own legal partner of many years, Justice Benjamin Chikowero, was recently appointed a High Court judge after he acquitted himself very well at the JSC interviews.
“The fact that he was my partner at a law firm was never an issue although I have been a well-known opposition politician for the past two decades,” he said.
The firebrand lawyer implored the judiciary to occupy its place in the crusade against corruption and graft.