A Newsday columnist opines that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has outdone former President Robert Mugabe in capturing the Judiciary and making it pliable to his whims.
President Mnangagwa will reportedly make his 20th appointment by the end of August, two years since he took over power following a military coup in 2017. His penchant for picking judicial appointments based on political correctness is shown in Kumbirai Hodzi’s appointment. Said the columnist:
… From a theoretical perspective, the President may seem guided by the JSC in making the decision, but in reality, he wields so much power and the case of the appointment of the current Prosecutor-General, Kumbirai Hodzi, is more informative.
Hodzi shocked the public during interviews when he said, as acting PG, he took instructions from the Executive despite the Constitution clearly spelling out that the occupant of the office should be independent in decision-making and without interference from anyone.
Hodzi came out number six according to the JSC scorecard after public interviews, but still got the top job. Mnangagwa, using section 180(3) of the Constitution, duly exercised his powers to refuse the first set of three names under the broad reason that all the persons on the list submitted to him in terms of subsection (2)(e) were unsuitable for appointment to the office.
The JSC, in line with the Constitution, sent a second list that included Hodzi and, then, he was duly appointed.
The reason for the refusal of the first nominees’ list was never made public, but it can be speculated they were not politically correct.
There is nothing that could be amiss to argue, Mnangagwa may be pulling the same stunt in the appointment of the eight judges next month. It’s not naïve to assume the appointees would be politically correct.
The way the JSC conducts interviews has also been brought under scrutiny as is does not ask prospective appointees of their views on issues such as abortion, nationalisation of assets and other basic human rights;
Disturbingly, in its interviews, the JSC never asks questions that may shed the ideological inclinations of the candidates. The public is not aware of their thoughts on say abortion, nationalisation of assets (land) or how they view rights like access to water, health or education.
… Whichever way one looks at it, Mnangagwa has his ducks in a row on the judiciary. His shadow shall be cast on all judgments for the next 20 years at a minimum.
He has stealthily shaped Zimbabwe’s legal landscape while the citizens are busy dealing with matters of the stomach. They might just find that they have lost plenty of rights by the time they look up from their empty plates.