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Outcry as Mnangagwa appoints 11 new judges of the High Court

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HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday appointed 11 new judges of the High Court and Administrative Court, including a former magistrate who allegedly took out a bank loan and then refused to pay.

Eighty-two lawyers applied for the vacant positions, and 39 were shortlisted for interviews by the Judicial Service Commission.

In a notice, Mnangagwa said he had appointed former magistrates Faith Mushure and Ngoni Nduna and lawyers Regis Demure, Philipa Phillips, Gibson Mandaza, Joel Mambara, Naison Chivhayo, Vvian Ndlovu, Sijabuliso Siziba and Mpokiseng Dube as judges of the High Court.

Maxwell Kaitano fills the sole vacancy at the Administrative Court.

In interviews with ZimLive, several lawyers expressed disquiet with the quality of some of the new judges. Nduna, a former deputy chief magistrate, admitted during the interviews that he had taken a bank loan for his farm, but neglected to pay back.

One senior lawyer said: “What will incentivise the brilliant lawyers and advocates to put up their hands when there is a vacancy, when the result is that you’re going to lose in the sense that you will not be appointed?

“And what’s there to disincentivise the bottom feeders from raising their hands? The purpose of public interviews is to show people that this one is not qualified, he or she’s unworthy and the world will know about you.

“Nduna took money from a bank to support his farming and refused to pay back. They sued him and he started raising technical arguments.

“People who are similarly circumstanced will say he went there, he had this baggage and it didn’t count against him. At the end of the day the courts will be brought into disrepute. About five to ten years from now, you end up with completely worthless judges in terms of their integrity, and their knowledge of the law.”

Another lawyer, who declined to be named for professional reasons, said most of those appointed had failed the public interviews and had been “clearly appointed on other considerations.”

“A judge must be a gentleman or lady who knows the law. Now it turns out, from these appointments, that if you’re a gentleman or lady and you know the law, you don’t satisfy the conditions to be a judge. You need to be a riffraff and ignorant of the law,” the lawyer said.

“The appointment of these judges, seven or eight of them who failed interviews, is the beginning of our descent into the abyss. Can you imagine the judiciary we are going to have a few years from now? Serious people should do something about it.”