PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has finally appointed Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba as substantive Chief Justice, ending months of speculation on was going to be the country’s top judge.
The experienced judge had been acting Chief Justice since the now retired Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku left the bench end of February this year.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said Malaba emerged tops from a list of judges who were vying for the most influential job in the country’s courts.
“He was appointed with effect from the 27th of March and what is left is judicial oath of office, which might be done next week because the new CJ designate, Justice Malaba is on foreign affairs assignment,” Charamba told State media on Tuesday.
Malaba’s appointment follows public interviews carried out by the Judicial Service Commission early this year to find Chidyausiku’s replacement.
He scored 92 percent, upstaging other hopefuls, Rita Makarau and Paddington Garwe who scored 90 and 52 percent respectively.
However, Malaba’s eventual appointment has not been without its own drama after Zanu PF’s feuding factions have tried to influence the Chief Justice’s appointment with a camp linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa approaching the courts to challenge the current system where the country’s top judge is appointed via public interviews.
The fuss has triggered current moves to amend the country’s constitution, something that, if it lands into the country’s statutes, shall give any sitting President the prerogative to handpick a Chief Justice.
The move has been slammed by the opposition and pro-democracy groups as unfavourable to elusive attempts to rid the country’s courts of executive interference and restore the separation of powers doctrine.