Human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has written to Acting Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza asking the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to investigate the actions of its secretary Walter Chikwana.
Chikwana allegedly attempted to influence a judge to rule in favour of Chief Justice Luke Malaba in the ongoing Contempt of Court case.
News Flash publishes Mtetwa’s letter, dated 4 June 2021, to Justice Gwaunza below:
Re: INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE CONDUCT OF THE JSC SECRETARY MR WALTER CHIKWANA
I write to you as a concerned lawyer who runs a largely litigation practice. On the 3rd June 2021, it transpired that MR CHIKWANA had met one of the judges who was seized with a matter in which MR CHIKWANA had an interest as he had deposed to an affidavit in the proceedings with which the judge was seized. The judge admitted that he had indeed met with MR CHIKWANA and recused himself from the case.
Apart from this incident, it also appears that MR CHIKWANA has, in various other litigation, deposed to affidavits purportedly on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission when in fact the Commissioners would not have authorized him to do so.
If proved to be correct, these would be grave and serious allegations against the administrative head of the JSC and this would severely dent the integrity of the Commission as an institution designed to promote the “efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice in Zimbabwe” by an independent and accountable judiciary.
Given these grave allegations against MR CHIKWANA, and given the Commissioners’ constitutional obligations, and the Commission’s stated objectives of adhering to “best practice, to promote the maintenance of a transparent, accountable and independent judiciary” as stated in the Commission’s website, I request that these allegations against MR CHIKWANA be independently investigated and that such investigations be done whilst he is on leave of absence and provided for in the relevant JSC disciplinary legislation.
I emphasize that this would be in the best interests of not only the Commission but the entire justice delivery system which must have the confidence of the people of Zimbabwe.
I also advise that these are views shared by many legal practitioners that I have spoken to.
I, therefore, look forward to your early response to this request.
MTETWA & NYAMBIRAI
cc. The President, Law Society of Zimbabwe
cc. The Chairperson, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission
cc. All Commissioners –
Honourable Mr Justice C.E. Bhunu, JA, Supreme Court, Harare Advocate P. Machaya – Attorney General’s Office