HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed eight new judges — six men and two women — to the High Court bench, in a move expected to reduce the backlog of cases at the superior court.
The eight are Labour Court judge Justice Philda Muzofa, University of Zimbabwe (UZ) lecturer Ms Sylvia Chirawu and Messrs Pisirayi Kwenda, Neville Wamambo, Thompson Mabhikwa, Benjamin Chikowero, Jacob Manzunzu and Isaac Muzenda.
According to the State media; the judges were appointed following public interviews held by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) last year. The eight will take their oath of office today before Chief Justice Luke Malaba at the Constitutional Court at Mashonganyika Building in Harare. Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza said gender and regional balance were considered on the appointment of the judges.
“I can confirm that the President has appointed eight High Court judges and they will be sworn into office at a ceremony set for Thursday (today) in Harare,” she said.
“Chief Justice Luke Malaba will preside over the swearing-in ceremony. In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, judges may take oath of office before the Chief Justice or any other senior judge present. Gender and regional balance were also considered in the process.”
Mrs Mabiza said although gender balance was important, the women were expected to score high in the interviews.
“We cannot just appoint women to the bench when their performance in interviews was poor,” she said. “Gender consideration benefits women who perform well in the selection interviews. One has to perform well in order to make it professionally.”
The newly appointed judges yesterday were at the Constitutional Court for rehearsals. Prior to the public interviews, the late Retired Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku set an aptitude test for the 43 aspiring judges to assess their ability to write judgements and 29 of them flunked.
Fourteen candidates passed, but the Judicial Service Commission said all the candidates, including those who failed the pre-interview test, had a right to participate in the public interviews and justify why they should be considered for the posts.
The eight were among the list of top performers, whose names were recommended for appointment by the JSC. From the list of the successful ones, the President had to appoint eight judges to the bench.