By NYASHA DUBE in Harare

THE appointment of new Supreme Court judges yesterday has nothing to do with the pending appeal against a High Court ruling which nixed the extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office, says Zimbabwe justice ministry.

This comes as three High Court judges — Jester Charewa, Happias Zhou and Edith Mushore — recently overturned president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to extend Malaba’s term of office by five more years following the passage of the Constitutional Amendment Number 2 Bill.

However, observers said the application had created a constitutional crisis after Supreme Court judges were also cited as respondents in the case.

“Quite a number of judges in the Supreme Court were cited, but when matters are filed in a particular court they are not to the attention of an individual judge. 

“It’s an application to an institution, the Supreme Court in this particular case. 

“As the executive I am not in the position to predict the bench that is likely to hear the matter that is before the Supreme Court,” said permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza.

The judges sworn in yesterday are George Chiweshe, Alphas Chitakunye, Samuel Kudya, Felistas Chatukuta, Joseph Musakwa and Hlekani Mwayera.

Mabhiza said the new appointments would enhance the justice delivery system as cases will now be dealt with and heard expeditiously.

“This is a very important event in our justice delivery sector. We have six additional judges who have been put to the Supreme Court which means that cases are going to be dealt with timeously and this is quite positive in terms of our constitutional aspirations,” she said.

She also confirmed that Malaba had returned to work, but had not presided over the swearing-in of the new judges as he had chosen to delegate the duties to his deputy, Elizabeth Gwaunza.

“The chief justice is at work. What you saw today, the deputy chief justice taking responsibility is provided by the law. 

“In terms of Section 185 Subsection 2 of the Constitution, the chief justice is allowed to delegate the authority to the most senior judge or any judge who he has to appoint in terms of the Constitution,” Mabhiza said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court last night reserved judgment in a hearing into an application by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum in which it wants Malaba charged with contempt of court for resuming duty after the High Court ruled he had retired.

Malaba argued he only reported for work after the government and the Judicial Service Commission appealed against the High Court ruling.

Justices Amy Tsanga and  Slyvia Chirau-Mugomba heard the case. – The Daily News