Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa filed his response to the Judicial Services Commission’s Supreme Court appeal to High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe’s interdict. Mnangagwa filed the application in his capacity as the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. Hungwe had granted an interdict stopping the JSC from conducting interviews for the next Chief Justice.
Mnangagwa maintained that the Chief Justice cannot be chosen through the current process as he questioned the makeup of the panellists. Mnangagwa also questioned whether the Chief Justice should be “scrutinised through public interviews before their appointment?”
Excerpts of Mnangagwa’s response read:
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However the inevitable question arises when one gives serious attention to the process relating to public interviews insofar as section 180 states that all prospective judges and chief justice must be interviewed in public before their appointment.
One such question is whether in view of a list of panelists who constitute the Judicial Service Commission, the constitution indeed requires that a person to be appointed as chief justice be subjected to public interviews? Is it the intention of those who drafted the supreme law of the land that the prospective candidates for appointment of a chief justice be scrutinised through public interviews before their appointment?
For instance it cannot be said that it is the intention of the drafters of the constitution for the chief justice to be questioned about his or her suitability for appointment by the chief magistrate. That state of affairs is not sustainable. Surely majority of the panelists are likely to have little or no knowledge of the law compared to the person they sit to interview.
The public expectations and aspirations for good corporate governance cannot be met where a chief justice is subjected to interview by people who are too junior in terms of experience and hierarchy.