Defiant former Chief Justice Luke Malaba has been coming to work since a government appeal against a High Court order that nullified the extension of his term of office.
An anonymous source told ZimLive that Malaba spent most of the day on Monday in what is supposed to be his former office at the Constitutional Court building in central Harare, surprising fellow judges and lawyers. Said a legal source:
_He was not there to pick up some items he left, he was working._
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A member of the team of lawyers that secured the High Court victory said defiant Malaba is in contempt of court by turning up for work. Another lawyer said:
_He’s clearly trying to intimidate judges who could soon be seized with his matter._
Legal insiders say most of Malaba’s colleagues are opposed to attempts to prolong the former Chief Justice’s term of office. Said another source:
_It’s so serious that some High Court judges have threatened to resign should he somehow stay on._
This is happening barely a week after three High Court judges ruled that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s attempts to extend Malaba’s term by five more years was null and void.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which employs all judges, then named Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza as the Acting Chief Justice.
The JSC and Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, however, filed an appeal at the Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the judgment.
While lawyers say the appeal does not suspend the High Court ruling which would allow Malaba to return to work, JSC secretary Walter Chikwana has a different view. He said:
_The Chief Justice has always been at work since the day the government noted an appeal in the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court. The suspension of the order is by operation of the law._
Mnangagwa appears determined to repay a favour to Malaba, who threw out a Constitutional Court challenge to the 78-year-old’s narrow election victory in August 2018.
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