Lawyers representing pro-democracy activist Namatai Kwekweza, Scanlen and Holderness, have written a letter to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) demanding details of how former Chief Justice Malaba’s secured his tenure renewal beyond 70 years.
Kwekweza has requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act which gives citizens the right to request information from public authorities.
This will put the government and the Judicial Services Commission in the spotlight as they increasingly come under pressure and scrutiny. Read the letter below:
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RE: APPLICATION FOR ACCESS TO INFORMATION: EXTENSION OF THE CHIEF JUSTICE’S TENURE
We refer to the above matter in which we act for NAMATAI KWEKWEZA. Kindly note our interest.
In terms of section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and in terms of section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act (Chapter 10:33) our client applies for access to copies of records of the following information:
1. How did the Judicial Services Commission come to a decision on the appropriate
recommendation to make to the President under section 186(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe relating to Hon Luke Malaba’s bid to continue as Chief Justice for another five years?
1.1. In particular was a meeting held by the Commissioners for this purpose?
1.2. Was a resolution passed to make the appropriate recommendation? If so, may we have a copy of the Resolution
1.3. If a resolution was passed in regard to (1.2) above, which Commissioners of the judicial Services Commission voted in favour of recommending that Hon Luke Malaba’s tenure be extended for another five years and which Commissioners voted against it?
1.4. Did any Commissioners or members of the board abstain from voting? If so, who?
1.5. Did Hon Luke Malaba communicate that he was conflicted in relation to this decision?
2. Did the Judicial Services Commission meet to consider whether to become involved in the litigation launched by Musa Kika in the High Court under case number HC 2128/21 and that by the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe?
2.1. If it met, when and where did it meet? 2.2. If it did not meet – does the Judicial Services Commission, consider that the general resolution passed in 2019 empowers its secretariat to make its own decision on matters of such consequence?
2.3. Was a resolution passed specifically relating to this litigation?
2.4. If a resolution was passed which Commissioners voted in favour of the resolution and which Commissioners voted against the resolution?
2.5. Did any Commissioners or members of the board abstain from voting? If so, who?
2.6. Did the Hon Luke Malaba declare a conflict of interest and abstain from voting? If not, why did he not do so?
2.7. Was a resolution passed to the effect that the JSC lawyer was to represent the Hon judges cited in the litigation?
2.8. If such a resolution was passed, were the Hon judges concerned consulted?
2.9. If the Hon Judges concerned were consulted, how were they consulted and who took what position?
As you are aware, the High Court has found, in the separate matters filed by Musa Kika and Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe that these are urgent matters.
We also believe that this is information that is immediately available to the JSC.
In that respect, we, therefore, seek an immediate response in terms of Section 7(3) of the Freedom of Information Act Chapter 10:33 and at any rate no later than end of business day of Monday 24 May 2020.
We draw your attention to your obligations under section 191 of the Constitution which requires that you conduct your business in a just, fair and transparent manner.
We tender costs for the photocopying of the required documents.
SCANLEN & HOLDERNESS