HARARE – Following the appointment of seasoned jurist Luke Malaba as the country’s chief justice – to replace the outgoing Godfrey Chidyausiku – we applaud President Robert Mugabe’s decision to appoint this experienced lawman at a time when the process risked degenerating into a complete farce due to the political gamesmanship around the key issue.
While many a skeptics still abound due to the government’s insistence on a constitutional amendment to allow the incumbent to pick his/her own judiciary head, there is reason to commend the Zanu PF leader here for not only choosing the best candidate but following the dictates of the law.
By allowing section 180-backed rationality and Malaba to prevail, Mugabe showed a rare glimpse of his ability to respect issues bordering on constitutionalism and meritocracy – and for which we must doff our hats!
For starters, the CJ-designate was not only a runaway success in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)-led process – with 92 points – but it was only logical for the 93 year-old leader to stick to a criteria which recognises public efforts and is guaranteed under our bill of rights.
Too, Malaba has diligently served the judiciary and his country for the past 35 years, and where he has handed over 50 judgments through the High, Supreme and Constitutional courts – with 15 of them being reportable between 2013 and 2016.
Therefore, we applaud Mugabe for resisting the temptation of delaying this key process and appointment by going with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who also doubles up as Justice minister’s plans to amend the constitution first.
With the current constitution having been approved in 2013, Zimbabwe must be seen as country that respects its constitutional tenets and not the whims, if not caprices, of a few and who might be acting for whatever other reasons that at cross purposes with the majority.
While some may argue that the Zanu PF leader chose to stay clear of factional fights and interests in his heavily-fractured party by settling for a “safe candidate” in Malaba, we believe the veteran ruler handled this matter with utmost care and sensitivity, and in a development that is likely to inspire public confidence as well as prevent a needless constitutional crisis.
As such, we urge Mugabe and his troubled government to continue on this cautious, and laudable trajectory in managing other facets of Zimbabwe’s daily life such as the economy.
As it is, we feel the pending constitutional changes in the process for appointing our country’s CJ were not only rendered “useless”, but remain an unnecessary distraction which Harare does not need.
Therefore, it would also be good if the highest office in the land would set aside this pending piece of legislation and send a strong message that logic, and common sense still exists in our republic!
Otherwise, if the nonagenarian and his Zanu PF continue with their proposed constitutional tweaks, it will not only be akin to “giving with the right hand and snatching away with the left”, but a complete waste of energy on matters that are not really critical.