President Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is concerned with rising cases of misconduct within the country’s judiciary.
Addressing delegates at the launch of the country’s first commercial court, which is an extension of the High Court, Mnangagwa implored judges to be upright in their conduct as they are the last defence in the protection of human rights. He said:
I’m deeply concerned by the rising cases of misconduct among judges that are brought to me in terms of section 1.8.7 of the constitution.
Within a period of three years, we had tribunals set up in terms of the constitution to deal with alleged cases of gross misconduct.
To date, three judges have been discharged from service, and one other judge has a case pending before the tribunal.
This demonstrates the transparency of our processes in our constitutional democracy.
… We thus expect impeccable and ethical conduct from our judiciaries because magistrates and judges are the last defence in terms of the protection of fundamental rights to all people, and should uphold the highest ethical standards.
This is the only way that our citizens are assured quality justice.
Mnangagwa recently established a tribunal to investigate Justice Edith Mushore who has not reported for duty for nearly a year.
A few weeks ago, Mnangagwa fired Bulawayo High court judge, Justice Thompson Mabhikwa, for gross misconduct.
Mnangagwa appointed a three-member tribunal to investigate Mabhikwa’s suitability to continue serving on the bench.
He was charged with alleged misconduct, sexual harassment and possessing pornographic material.
The tribunal was made up of Retired Justice Maphios Cheda who was appointed chair, Chaka Mashoko and Phillipa Magnify Phillips as members, while Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Virginia Mabiza is the secretary for the tribunal.
It recommended that Mabhikwa be removed from the office of a Judge for acts of gross misconduct.
The setting up of the tribunal followed an investigation by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) into the alleged love affair between Justice Mabhikwa and Oratile Nare, an assistant to Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva.
Nare allegedly became jealous after she saw the messages and nudes sent to a rival by Justice Mabhikwa.
Out of anger, she reportedly forwarded Justice Mabhikwa’s messages with the other woman to almost all his contacts, including a judges’ group.
This prompted the JSC to start investigating the judge and recommending that the President set up a tribunal to determine whether the judge could continue serving on the bench or not.
According to the JSC code of conduct, it is unethical for a boss and a subordinate to engage in an affair.