Latest News Editor's Choice


Opinion / Columnist

Justice Ndewere' suspension exposes the opposition

14 Oct 2020 at 08:10hrs | Views
Dr Masimba Mavaza
High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere will be facing a tribunal after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) recommended to President Mnangagwa to set one up to look into her suitability to hold office.
Justice Ndewere is facing allegations of misconduct and conduct inconsistent with being a judicial officer.
Her suspension from the bench will be automatic by operation of law once the tribunal is put in place.  

In a very expected spin by the opposition mouthpiece misinformation and misleading statements are floated around. In a bid to course disharmony and inciting the public to lose respect for the Judiciary social media has associated the suspension of honourable judge to political squabbles.
Zimbabwe does not want to see its judiciary politicised as a nation we must also condemn unfortunate press attacks on top judges and the judiciary at large.

Zimbabwe must guard against any attempt by the anyone to "politicise" the work of the judiciary.

Zimbabwe's Judiciary is honourable. An independent and honorable judiciary is indispensable to justice in our society. A judge should maintain and enforce high standards of conduct and should personally observe those standards, so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved.

Deference to the judgments and rulings of courts depends on public confidence in the integrity and independence of judges. The integrity and independence of judges depend in turn on their acting without fear or favour. Although judges should be independent, they must comply with the law and should comply with this Code. Adherence to this responsibility helps to maintain public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. Conversely, violation of this Code diminishes public confidence in the judiciary and injures our system of justice.
Making an opinion on judges is something else but making it your business to lie becomes contemptuous.

Every judge is bound by a Code of Judicial Conduct that sets out the standards of ethical conduct to be expected of the Judicial officer. Such a Code serves a number of purposes. It provides guidance to the members of the Court. It informs those who use the Court of the standards that they can reasonably expect of its judges. It explains to members of the public how judges behave and should help to secure their respect and support for the judiciary.

If a judge performs his or her duties without due diligence he or she would have failed to be within the expected standards.  

While it is true that Justice Ndewere presided over Sikhala's bail it was not her judgement which caused her suspension.

The judiciary of the Of Zimbabwe has been independent of the government since independence. Of late the Judiciary members are answerable to the Judiciary service commission. The JSC among other things was established in order to achieve the physical separation of the country's  justice system and employees from the government and thus to clarify the Justices' independence both of government and of Parliament. Judicial independence is a cornerstone of our system of government in a democratic society and a safeguard of the freedom and rights of the citizen under the rule of law. The Justices will take care that their conduct, official or private, does not undermine their institutional or individual independence or the public appearance of independence.

Once that is breached the JSC investigates the issue if prima facie there is a case JSC is obliged to refer the matter to the president to set a tribunal.

In the case of Justice Ndewere her alleged misconducted were allegedly committed in August 2019. At that time Job Sikhala had not even planned to commit his crime.

When Job's bail application was put before the courts in particular before Ndewere a tribunal was already in motion.

Again the administration of court is a heavy duty thus the Chief justice will not be personally interested in Job Sikhala's bail.  It was not a surprise that  Job Sikhala was granted bail. After all his core accused were already on bail. There was no reason for the chief Justice to put a finger in such a case.

More-so it is laughable to believe that Ndewere angered Malaba by granting bail to Job Sikhala.

Shockingly Magaisa wrote on Twitter: "Don't underestimate the courage of the judge who gave Job Sikhala bail. I wouldn't be surprised if she suffers for it. When you do things against the system's wishes, the system finds something to hit you with. Sooner or later you will hear they are investigating Justice Ndewere for this and that."

It is clear that Magaisa had inside information that Ndewere is appearing before a tribunal. He then decided to be malicious  by casting negative aspersions   

It is not correct that the judge was suspended for granting Job bail.
Because the misinformation was so gross it forced the JSC to explain the circumstance which led to the suspension of Justice Ndewere. This was an unprecedented move.
Social media was bent on soiling the name of the Jsc.
Malaba was described as being "very unhappy" at the judge, which would have precipitated her suspension.  This assertion  depicts Malaba as a justice who punishes his subordinates on the tickle of his emotions.

It is not a secret that Chief Justice Malaba has been under fierce attack from the opposition and social media. So tying him to this case is mischievous and baseless.

According to Magaisa, "individual judges are under pressure" to rule in favour of the government. This is a calculated statement meant to undermine the Zimbabwean justice process

We don't want to be politicised," said Source in JSC. We don't decide political questions, we decide legal questions. And in any event, parliament always has the last word." Said another office.

As Zimbabweans we must also criticised recent attacks on the judiciary by the press – including the notorious headline in The  Social media. The aim is  to brand judges "enemies of the people".

Judges must continue to do the job according to their judicial oaths they certainly do not need to pay any attention to attacks of that nature."

In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling on the MDC A as "unlawful", the level of attacks on the Judiciary was obnoxious.

It should be made clear that Chief Justice had no "current plans" to interfere in bail applications. The attacks on judiciary would be a regrettable step for us in our constitutional arrangements".

We do know that there is no member of the judiciary, or indeed most of the legal profession, who would favour the politicisation of judicial appointments. We have an independent, merit-based appointment which most of us are extremely comfortable with."

The courts from time to time tell governments or public authorities that what they do want to do is not lawful.

Those who soil the JSC must  realise that Law functions as a mask for politics, precisely the role neofunctionalists originally forecast for economics. The need for a ‘functional' domain to circumvent the direct clash of political interests is the central insight of neofunctionalist theory. This domain could never be completely separated from the political sphere but would at least provide a sufficient buffer to achieve results that could not be directly obtained in the political realm.

Judges are the public face of justice and of the rule of law. As such, they have a duty to live up to the highest standards of integrity and impartiality in order to preserve public trust in what is a most fundamental pillar of democracy.

Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza confirmed that JSC had referred the matter to President Mnangagwa, the appointing authority, for a judicial tribunal in terms of the Constitution.
"The JSC has referred to the President a recommendation to set up a tribunal to inquire into the question of removal from office of Justice Erica Ndewere, a High Court judge,"
So the reality of the matter is  that  the suspension had no link to the criminal activities of Job Skhala.

JSC must not abdicate its duties of maintaining the fitness to practice for the any judge. The reporting by many news outlets is  contemptuous and meant to create internal disharmony in the justice system.   
Judges should not be spared simply because their misconduct is covered by a high profile criminal case.

Presiding over cases involving political activists must not absolve the misconduct.  As Judges they must go through due process irregardless of having been lenient to the opposition criminals.

The opposition wishes courts to only tule in their favour. They then view the disciplinary actions as political.
Zimbabwe must not be fed poison by the social media which seeks to vilify JSC.

We applaud the courage and the work JSC does to maintain dignity in our judicial officers of any rank.

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

Subscribe

Email: