Court Watch 10-2014

COURT WATCH 10/2014

[8th July 2014]

Public Interviews of Candidates for Supreme Court Appointments
Tuesday 15th July

The Judicial Service Commission [JSC] has announced that it will hold public interviews of the individuals nominated for appointment to fill three vacancies on the Supreme Court bench [soft copy of full JSC press statement available from the addresses given at the of this bulletin].  Date, starting time and venue are as follows:

  • Tuesday 15th July
  • 9 am
  • Rainbow Towers Hotel, Harare [Jacaranda Room 2].

These interviews will be the first in terms of the new constitutional procedure for appointing judges [Constitution, section 180 – fully explained in Court Watch 5/2014 of 17th March, in which we notified the JSC’s call to the public to submit nominations by 14th April].

Media representatives and members of the public are entitled to attend and observe the proceedings.

The Candidates

The JSC press statement says that nominations were received from the President and members of the public.  The ten candidates are listed below in alphabetical order, as in the press statement.

  1. Hon Mr Justice C. E. Bhunu
  2. Hon Mr Justice C. Hungwe 
  3. Hon Mr Justice S. Kudya
  4. Hon Mrs Justice E. Makamure
  5. Hon Mrs Justice L. Makoni
  6. Hon Mr Justice N. Mathonsi
  7. Hon Mrs Justice S. Mavangira
  8. Hon Mrs Justice M. Moya-Matshanga
  9. Hon Mr Justice T. Uchena
  10. Hon Mr Justice H. Zhou

Eight of the candidates are High Court judges; two are Labour Court judges. 

Rearranged in order of seniority by date of appointment to the High Court and Labour Court, the list is as follows:

High Court judges

  1. Hon Mr Justice C. Hungwe
  2. Hon Mrs Justice S. Mavangira
  3. Hon Mrs Justice L. Makoni
  4. Hon Mr Justice C. E. Bhunu
  5. Hon Mr Justice T. Uchena
  6. Hon Mr Justice S. Kudya
  7. Hon Mr Justice N. Mathonsi
  8. Hon Mr Justice H. Zhou

Labour Court judges

  1. Hon Mrs Justice E. Makamure 
  2. Hon Mrs Justice M. Moya-Matshanga

Note: The Constitution makes it clear that Labour Court and Administrative Court presiding officers are now “judges”, not “presidents” as they were previously.  The Labour Act and the Administrative Court Act have not yet been modified to reflect this change.

After the Interviews

JSC to Submit Nine Names to the President

Once it has completed the interviews the JSC must prepare a list of qualified persons as nominees to be considered by the President.  JSC Acting Secretary Justice Makarau has said it will be submitting nine names to the President [section 180(2)(d) of the Constitution requires three names per vacancy, and there are three vacancies].  Inevitably, therefore, one of the ten candidates for interview is going to be omitted from the list of names the JSC sends to the President.

Can the President Reject the JSC List?

The President must make the three appointments from the nine names on the list he receives, unless he considers there are not enough nominees suitable for appointment, in which case he must require the JSC to submit a “further list” of three, six or nine names, as appropriate, from which he must then fill the vacancy or vacancies not filled the first time.

Comment: As all the candidates are sitting judges, it is unlikely that the President will find it necessary to call for a further list.

The Gender Factor

One of the national objectives stated in the Constitution is full gender balance in Zimbabwean society in general; one of the elements of gender balance is equal representation of both genders in all institutions and agencies of government at every level, including judicial institutions such as the Supreme Court [Constitution, Chapter 2, section 17].   Both the JSC and the President must be guided by this objective and have regard to it when considering these appointments; “guidance” and “regard” are the words used in the Constitution [section 8].

The Supreme Court currently has nine judges, four of them women:

  1. Hon Godfrey Chidyausiku, Chief Justice
  2. Hon Luke Malaba, Deputy Chief Justice
  3. Hon Vernanda Ziyambi
  4. Hon Elizabeth Gwaunza
  5. Hon Paddington Garwe
  6. Hon Rita Makarau [currently seconded to the Judicial Service Commission as full-time Acting Secretary]
  7. Hon Anne-Marie Gowora
  8. Hon Ben Hlatshwayo
  9. Hon Bharat Patel

As the present appointment exercise aims at increasing the total Supreme Court membership to twelve there is scope for the appointment of one or more additional women to the court.

Comment:  The JSC itself is not a model of gender balance.  Of its current ten members only two are women [see below].

The Members of the Judicial Service Commission

The present membership of the JSC is:

Ex officio members

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku [chairperson]

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba

High Court Judge-President George Chiweshe

Attorney-General [vacant, awaiting appointment of Attorney-General]

Chief Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe

Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah

One judge nominated by judges

Justice Happias Zhou

Three legal practitioners designated by Law Society of Zimbabwe

Mr Lloyd Mhishi

Mrs Priscilla Madzonga

Mr Josphat Tshuma

Law professor/senior lecturer designated by university law teachers

[Vacant]

Accountant designated by Public Accountants and Auditors Board

Mrs Priscilla Mutembwa

One person experienced in human resources management

[Vacant]

Note: The three vacancies in the JSC membership do not preclude it from acting validly, as long as what it does is done by members who are a quorum, which is seven [Constitution, section 344].

High Court Vacancies: Interviews to Come Later

In March the JSC also called for nominations of candidates for three High Court vacancies, with the same 14th April closing date.  The public interviews of the candidates for these vacancies will be on a date still to be announced.

 

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