Judges interviews: Top cops grow cold feet
Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter—
TWO top police officers, who did not succeed in the preliminary judgment writing exercise, lost the opportunity to be appointed High Court judges after they failed to attend public interviews in Harare yesterday. Commissioner Solomon Mubatapasango and Senior Assistant Commissioner Benjamin Mhiripiri, who are lawyers for the Zimbabwe Republic Police, did not turn up for the interviews together with three other candidates despite being on the list of interviewees for the day.
Ms Sethulwe Ncube, Mrs Olivia Zvedi and Ms Benhilda Manyowa also did not attend the interviews yesterday. The five’s absence left the total number of candidates who have chickened out so far at 11.
The withdrawal or non-attendance of the 11 followed the announcement of their pre-interview test on judgment writing. According to Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, only 14 out of 43 candidates passed the judgment writing test.
The head of the Judiciary, in his speech opening the five-day public interviews exercise on Monday, indicated that judgment writing was the core of the judgeship and that it was not an easy task for the Commission to recommend to President Mugabe someone who had proved that he or she cannot write a judgment.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku gave those who flunked an opportunity to decide whether or not to proceed to the public interviews with such bad results. Yesterday 10 candidates were lined up to be interviewed, but only five attended.
The first interviewee for the day was University of Zimbabwe Law lecturer and Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA) director Ms Slyvia Chirawu. Ms Chirawu eloquently responded to the questions put to her to the public’s applause.
Those sitting in the public gallery, for the first time, had to clap hands after Ms Chirawu had impressively articulated issues during the interview session. She was followed by Advocate Choice Damiso who was composed and responded to questions put to her without any hiccup. Adv Damiso once worked for the Parliament of Zimbabwe and is currently with the United Nations.
Mr Samuel Deme from the Attorney-General’s Office, who is visually impaired, stole the attention of many as he explained how he would overcome the challenge of not being able to see and assess the demeanour of witnesses as they testify before him.
“Observing witnesses as they give evidence is important but I can design best ways of evaluating such conduct. “After all, observing the witness’s demeanour constitute a small percentage in assessing the outcome of the case. What the witness says is the most important,” he said.
Asked how he will record the evidence of the witnesses in court, Mr Deme said: “I will use my specialised computer to write down questions and answers during the proceedings.” Mrs Noriah Shumba and Ms Sheila Nyagumbo also appeared before the eight member panel despite having failed the preliminary test.
They argued that they could write better judgments given a second chance and that the Commission must not judge them on the poor performance in the pre-interview test alone.