Court Watch 8/2019 - Public Interviews of Candidates for Two Supreme Court vacancies - 19th June


[12th June 2019]

Judicial Service Commission to Conduct Public Interviews of

Five Candidates for Appointment as Supreme Court Judges

Wednesday 19th June 2019

Five candidates for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe will be interviewed in public by the Judicial Service Commission [JSC] next Wednesday, 19th June 2019.   There are two vacancies to be filled.

Venue:     Rainbow Towers Hotel

Starting Time:       9.00 am

The JSC will post a detailed programme of events for the day at the venue. 

All members of the public, including media representatives, are welcome to attend

Anyone with queries or requiring further information on the interviews may contact the JSC, 2nd Floor, Causeway Building, Central Avenue, Harare, telephone numbers 0242-706260/704118.

The Candidates

All the candidates are serving High Court judges.  In alphabetical order, as listed in the JSC’s public notice of the interviews, and with their dates of appointment to the High Court bench in brackets, they are:

·        Justice Felicia Chatukuta [2004]

·        Justice Alfas Muvavarigwa Chitakunye [2003]

·        Justice Charles Hungwe [2000]

·      Justice Samuel Kubopa Kudya [2004]

Justice Nicholas Mathonsi [2010]

The Public Interviews

These interviews are an important part of the appointment process for judges laid down in section 180(4) of the Constitution.  They come after the earlier stages in the process already taken by the JSC – advertising the vacancies and inviting the President and members of the public to put forward qualified candidates, and preliminary vetting of the nomination documents. 

Section 180 is one of the provisions amended by the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act, 2017 (No. 10 of 2017) [link].  Readers who wish to refer to Veritas’ consolidated version of the Constitution can do so on the Veritas website [link].  The JSC has elaborated on section 180 in its Guidelines on the Appointment of Judges [link].

After the Interviews

After the interviews, the members of the Judicial Service Commission must decide on a list of “qualified persons as nominees for” the two posts, and send the list to the President. 

How many names should appear on the list?  Had there been only one vacancy to be filled, section 180(4) would require a list of three qualified persons.  How this should be adapted to the present facts – two vacancies and five interview candidates – is not expressly covered.   It is for the JSC to decide on a reasonable, common-sense answer to this question – as it must have done when advising the former President on filling four Supreme Court vacancies in 2016 from eight candidates.

Having received the JSC’s list of nominees, the President must then, unless he considers that no-one on the list is suitable for appointment to the Supreme Court, make the two appointments from that list.  If the President considers that no-one on the list is suitable, he must call on the JSC to produce a second list and must make the appointment from that second list [Constitution section 180(5)]

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