August 4, 2017
The Honorable Robert Gabriel Mugabe
The President of the Democratic Republic of Zimbabwe
Re: Concerns over Constitution Amendment Bill (No.1) and judicial independence in Zimbabwe.
The undersigned bar associations and organizations concerned with the rule of law respectfully write to note our grave concern over the future of the independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe. We are a group of independent regional and international bar associations and organizations committed to advancing the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession worldwide. In particular, we are concerned by current attempts to amend the Constitution of Zimbabwe (the Constitution) through Constitution Amendment Bill (No. 1) Bill, 2017 (H.B. 1, 2017) (the Bill) in a manner that will decrease transparency and independence in the selection of judges.
The Bill, particularly Section 6, amends Section 180 of the Constitution and introduces a new appointment process for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court. The current process provides for the selection of all judges through a system of public nomination and interviews, conducted by the Judicial Services Commission, after which shortlisted candidates are sent to the President for final selection. The Bill seeks to replace this process and instead grant the President the sole discretion to appoint individuals to these three specific offices, which are the highest and most influential positions in the judiciary. On July 25, 2017, the Lower House of Parliament passed the Bill. It will next go before the Senate for further scrutiny and, if passed, it will fall to your Excellency to veto or sign it into law. We write to urge you to exercise your veto power to avoid the appearance of a politicized judiciary.
Numerous civil society organizations in Zimbabwe, including the Law Society of Zimbabwe, have expressed deep concern that this Bill, if passed, will erode the current system for the selection of judges, which is based on the constitutionally enshrined principle of separation of powers and is meant to ensure an independent and impartial judicial system. An independent judiciary is a vital check and balance in a democratic society and essential to maintaining the rule of law.
November 18, 2016
Prominent Zimbabwe lawyer Fadzayi Mahere was among a number of anti-government activists arrested on Friday in central Harare – even though they weren’t actually marching against President Robert Mugabe‘s government, the #ThisFlag protest movement said.
Critics of Mugabe had planned a march to demonstrate against the bank notes his central bank is intent upon introducing later this month – but police turned out in force to stop activists taking to the streets, it is understood.
Mahere and others were “sitting quietly” when they were arrested in Africa Unity Square, which is near parliament, according to @ThisFlag1980, the protest movement begun by a Harare pastor earlier this year.
They were later taken to Harare Central Police Station, eyewitnesses say.
Mahere, a Cambridge – and University of Zimbabwe- trained lawyer, posted a selfie earlier on Friday with the words: “We come in peace! Africa Unity Square
August 3, 2016
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR have come under attacked for representing arrested war veterans leaders but turned a blind eye on Paul Siwela and John Gazi who where facing treason charges.
The lawyers, last week jumped to represent war veterans spokesperson Douglas Mahiya.
They managed to secure a $300 bail for Mahiya.
The lawyers have also taken upon themselves to represent the associations secretary-general Victor Matemadanda, national Vice Chairperson Headman Sibanda and Hoyini Samuel Bhila, ZNLWVA’s Vice Chairperson for Harare province after the two handed themselves to detectives at Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order Section.
ZLHR defended its move with the group’s chairperson Beatrice Mtetwa insisting the organisation was apolitical.
Mtetwa said her organisation was apolitical, adding that they would readily deploy lawyers from the independent stable to defend people who are apparently being persecuted for their political positions.
February 2, 2016
(The press gathered as Johannes Tomana arrived at court)
Zimbabwe’s chief prosecutor has been charged with obstructing the course of justice after allegedly dropping charges against people accused of plotting to bomb the president’s dairy.
The milk production plant is run by President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
Attorney General Johannes Tomana denies the charges. He was brought to court in a police van on Tuesday morning.
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) strongly condemns President Robert Mugabe’s recent comments challenging the legal right of any judge to intervene in what he deems to be internal ZANU-PF party matters, and also his questioning of the educational qualifications of any judge willing to hear the case recently brought by two former ZANU-PF party members in Zimbabwe’s High Court.
President Mugabe’s remarks, reportedly made on 6 March at the official opening of the Africa Chrome Fields – a chrome smelting plant in Zibagwe – follow the filing, on 3 March, of a law suit by ex-members of the ruling political party ZANU-PF, Rugare Gumbo and Didymus Mutasa, which cited respondents as President Mugabe, ZANU-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo, and ZANU-PF, on the grounds of ‘un-procedural’ expulsion from ZANU-PF and unlawful changes to the party’s constitution.