One of Zimbabwe’s most respected judges, retired Supreme Court Justice Nicholas McNally, has died.
McNally was among judges, mostly white, bullied by the late leader Robert Mugabe for upholding the rule of law amid land seizures and resisting politicisation of the judiciary.
Justice McNally was once given a few hours to hand in his resignation by Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa but his answer was to refuse to step down. He refused to cave in to threats from President Robert Mugabe’s government and announced that he would stay on the bench until his retirement.
He said he would not be bullied into resigning just one week after the Mugabe government forced out Anthony Gubbay, the chief justice of the five-member supreme court.
Justice McNally and his wife surrendered their Zimbabwean passports to the registrar general’s office after securing British travel documents.
Besides McNally, some of the judges forced out by Mugabe in 2002 included David Bartlett, James Devitte, Michael Gillespie, and the internationally-respected former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay.
While Mugabe wanted to bulldoze his violent and chaotic land reform programme through the courts, the judges insisted on the rule, property rights and due process in acquiring land for resettlement, warning that if the rule of law is trampled on the country will go to the dogs.