Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has described the late former Chief Justice Godfrey Guwa Chidyausiku as a fine judge who played an integral role in shaping the country’s land reform programme through judgements. Justice Chidyausiku died of liver and kidney problems while admitted to a hospital in South Africa on Wednesday. Addressing mourners at the Chidyausiku residence in Highlands yesterday, VP Mnangagwa, who also oversees the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said Justice Chidyausiku’s appointment to the bench came as a rescue plan for Zimbabweans who were being deprived of their land by the whites.
He said when Justice Anthony Gubbay stepped down from the position of Chief Justice, Justice Chidyausiku took over and assisted in making the land reform a success.
“During the land reform era, white judges like Justice Gubbay were misfiring,” said VP Mnangagwa. “Fortunately, Gubbay notified us that he was now resigning. We reported that to our superiors that he wanted to step down. We then took the opportunity to appoint our own Godfrey to be the new Chief Justice.
“When he became Chief Justice, we started seeing the whites leaving the country one by one until we took our land back. That was now our own bench of people who had a history and understood the cause of the nation.”
VP Mnangagwa said he first met Justice Chidyausiku in 1979 at Lancaster in England and they became friends.
“We understand death is unavoidable and you (the family) have to be strong and accept the situation,” he said. “There is no room for negotiation. We hope to meet him again in heaven.”
VP Mnangagwa said the return of President Mugabe from South Africa today will provide guidance on the burial arrangements.
“We we will sit down and discuss the way forward,” he said.
VP Mnangagwa narrated how Government intervened and airlifted the late judge to South Africa.
“I received a call from my secretary that our President had instructed us to assist and airlift Justice Chidyausiku for further treatment,” he said. “We arranged for his immediate transfer to a hospital in South Africa.”
Justice Chidyausiku’s body is expected to arrive in the country tomorrow afternoon.
A senior lawyer, Mr Wilson Manase, described Justice Chidyausiku as a brilliant judge.
“We have lost a sharp legal mind who helped shape the land reform programme through judgements,” he said. “A case which really hit the point is the one involving the Commercial Farmers Union and the Minister of Lands.”
Another lawyer, Mr Alex Magaisa, in one of his articles, described the late Justice Chidyausiku as a revolutionary judge.
“As Chief Justice and head of the judiciary, Chidyausiku was right at the centre of this revolution, and his pivotal role earned him numerous accolades and eternal praise from the ruling party and complete disdain from the farming community that was displaced from the land,” he said.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe said in a statement: “The former CJ distinguished himself well as a jurist and administrator. His judgements will continue to shape our jurisprudence.”
MDC-T also mourned Justice Chidyausiku.
“While we might not have agreed with some of his judgements, particularly in politically sensitive cases, we, nevertheless, would like to join his family and the nation at large in mourning the untimely demise of one of Zimbabwe’’s longest serving jurists,” read the party’s statement.
Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who used to interact with Justice Chidyausiku in the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, described him as a legal icon.
Attorney General Advocate Prince Machaya said Justice Chidyausiku was a very competent lawyer and that the law profession lost a great deal through his demise.