THE Supreme Court yesterday reserved judgement in a case in which High Court judge Benjamin Paradza is challenging the selection of the tribunal set up last year to investigate him for allegedly
attempting to defeat the course of justice.
The charges arose after Paradza allegedly phoned a Bulawayo High Court judge asking him to release the passport of his friend and business partner, Russell Labuschagne.
Labuschagne, who is serving a 15-year jail term for the murder of a fisherman two years ago, was being held in remand prison awaiting trial. His passport and other documents had been seized by the authorities so he could not abscond.
Paradza was arrested in his Harare High Court chambers in 2003 and charged with attempting to defeat the course of justice. His trial was suspended to allow for the tribunal process to be completed.
Members of the tribunal appointed by President Mugabe last year to investigate Paradza are Justices Dennis Konani Chirwa of Zambia, John Mroso of Tanzania and Isaac Mtambo of Malawi. The three judges are first, second and third respondents respectively while Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and President Mugabe are fourth and fifth respondents.
Paradza, through his attorneys Advocates Jeremy Gauntlet and Eric Matinenga, instructed by Selby Hwacha, alleges that the president’s power of selection was reduced to a formal swearing-in, with the actual selection being exercised by others.
Paradza said Mugabe erred when he did not personally appoint the tribunal and instead delegated Chinamasa to choose the members of the tribunal with the assistance of chief justices of three other countries. He is seeking that the selection of the tribunal purportedly constituted pursuant to the provisions of section 87(4) of the constitution be declared null and void.
Paradza argues that: “The decisions necessary for the selection of the tribunal were not his (president Mugabe) own but an amalgam of decisions of the fourth respondent (Chinamasa) and the chief justices of three other countries. If, as the applicant contends, the tribunal has not been validly appointed then it is a nullity ab initio and its proceedings are vitiated.”
Paradza contends that President Mugabe “misconceived his jurisdiction . . . firstly, he considered that section 31 H permitted him to abdicate his power and duty of selection to the fourth respondent (Chinamasa) (by unlawful delegation, which he confused with lawful agency) and, through him in turn, to foreign functionaries.”