Fourteen judges are reported to have threatened to resign after the state allegedly tried to arm-twist them into supporting the extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended Malaba’s term of office although the judge had reached retirement age. The extension came after the president had signed into law the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 2 which gives the president powers to make key appointments in the judiciary.
The extension of Malaba’s term of office was challenged at the High Court which ruled that Malaba had ceased to be the Chief Justice.
United States-based MDC Alliance activist, Freeman Chari, claims the state then tried to arm-twist the judges into accepting the extension of Malaba’s term of office but they threatened to resign. Chari said:
_Behind the scenes we have to be thankful to the 14 judges who refused to defend the system. That is why Malaba had to use JSC. The state tried to arm-twist them but they threatened to resign en masse. People know what is wrong, it takes courage to stand up._
Responding to Chari’s claims, one commentator said the judges were cited as respondents, therefore, there was no way they could have defended the system.
Meanwhile, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) announced that Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza is the Acting Chief Justice of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect.