Chief Justice Luke Malaba will on 15 May 2021 be due for retirement as he will officially turn 70, The NewsHawks reports. According to sources close to Malaba, he is sweating over the issue as he is yet to know his fate after he reaches his retirement age and he wants the judges’ retirement age extended:
The Chief Justice is in a big dilemma. The issue is he is supposed to retire in May, but he doesn’t want to go. He wants the constitution amended Constitutional Amendment (No.2) for him to benefit and stay on when he is the incumbent. This is a big constitutional and political conundrum.
Lawyers that spoke to the publication about Malaba said he had made several positive changes in the judiciary while another senior lawyer said though he brought many changed his shortcomings were equally bad:
I understand all those achievements, but the negative aspects, first of trying to hang onto power, and
second of compromising the judiciary, are serious.
Since the coup and the elections, he came in as a captured judge. Remember his judgment that (the late former president Robert) Mugabe resigned voluntarily – through a coup – in a bid to legitimise and protect Mnangagwa’s administration after the (Justice George Chiweshe) ruling also legitimising the coup?
Then there is the disputed 2018 presidential electoral petition. He reportedly whipped judges into line to help out Mnangagwa again. After that it has been a series of controversies. For example, that circular to judges which said judgments must first be seen by the head of the court. I know the idea was to ensure judgments are delivered timeously, but he also wanted supervision as in control and subtle
There is also the issue of circulating judgments of the Supreme and Constitutional Court benches among all judges in those courts before they are delivered. This is designed and calculated to make sure he sees all the judgments before they are delivered since he is a member of those courts. It is a subtle way of trying to psychologically and practically pressure and control judges, obviously for political
This is a bad practice. It undermines the integrity of judges, judicial independence and institutionalises
interference and control. Malaba used to write well-reasoned and interesting judgments, including separate and dissenting rulings. But under him now there are no separate and dissenting judgments anymore. Why? Because he has allowed capture of the judiciary. So for me, he has a mixed record
Last year judges wrote a letter to President Mnangagwa complaining about Malaba and how he was conducting the judiciary and made several accusations against the Chief Justice.