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Malaba deserves the job

RHODESIAN founder Cecil Rhodes, buried at the Matobo Hills outside Bulawayo, once said “to be born an Englishman is to win first prize in the lottery of life”.

Editor’s Memo Dumisani Muleya

Although Rhodes, a British colonial fortune hunter, had a mindset coloured by supremacist views (for he believed the English are the “finest race” in the world), by inference the same thing could be said today about being born in Singapore.

The Economist in 2013 wrote a piece about Rhodes and being born in the Nordic countries, probably the best-governed states in the world, hence this extrapolation.

Singapore is certainly one of the best places in the world to be born in and to live in from the perspective of the most basic human needs: food, water, shelter, education, health and employment. That’s why President Robert Mugabe shuttles to the island city-state for medical attention.

By contrast, Zimbabwe is currently one of the worst places in the world to be born and live in. Again that’s why Mugabe doesn’t trust its medical facilities.

When it became independent from British colonial rule in 1963, Singapore’s GDP was just slightly above US$700 million, but now it’s above US$300 billion. Its economy is now one of the most advanced globally; with futuristic infrastructure and great social service delivery.

Yet it looked destined to be a failed state when it was expelled from the Malaysian federation in 1965. But amazingly, it became one of the world’s greatest success stories.

What is the moral of the story?

The point is Singapore’s dramatic success was largely due to effective leadership, good governance, pragmatism and meritocracy. Lee Kuan Yew was the architect.

This brings us to the process of selecting a new chief justice to replace the outgoing Godfrey Chidyausiku.
Instead of authorities allowing political expediency and nepotism in the context of Mugabe’s succession politics to muddy the waters, meritocracy should be the guiding principle. Chidyausiku’s successor and, indeed, other state employees and leaders, must be selected on meritocracy — on the basis of talent and ability, not patronage.

Society must be governed by people selected on merit, where everyone with talent, skill and imagination can aspire to reach the top. The selection of the chief justice is a litmus test in that regard.

Four candidates were nominated for the chief justice post and public interviews were done in December last year in accordance with constitution. Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Constitutional Court judge Justice Paddington Garwe, Judicial Service Commission (JSC) secretary Justice Rita Makarau and Judge President Justice George Chiweshe were nominated.

Chiweshe withdrew from the interviews after Justice Charles Hungwe granted an application by University of Zimbabwe law student Romeo Zibani challenging the process.

However, the JSC appealed to the Supreme Court, effectively suspending Hungwe’s order and allowing the interviews to proceed. The Supreme Court ruled in its favour this week, clearing the path for Mugabe to appoint a new chief justice.

As first reported by this paper, Malaba came tops with 91%, Makarau second with 90% and Garwe third with 52%. While the difference between Malaba and Makarau’s marks is marginal, there is a gap between them in terms of seniority, experience and jurisprudential capacity. It is widely agreed Malaba is far ahead even if Makarau is also sharp.

Given this, Malaba must get the job on merit if there is equal opportunity and fair play here. This is very important not as a Malaba issue, but as a way of starting to dismantle the current corrosive patronage system which has destroyed the country.

Zimbabwe must abandon its spoils system in which people are appointed on the basis of loyalty, nepotism and corruption, and embrace a new culture of meritocracy. Civil society and the media have an important role to play on this. This is the only way the country can dream of becoming a success story like Singapore.

4 thoughts on “Malaba deserves the job”

  1. maputi says:

    well said.

  2. gutter poet says:

    For this once let the authorities be SEEN to be fair.( They make a lot of heavy weather of the dictum: Justice should not just be done, it must be seen to be done).If Malaba got the highest points then what is there to talk about other than send him flowers and a congratulatory card..? Yah, I agree let Malaba get the job. The downside of him not getting it is creation of discord in the Judicial services who presently do not have a very good name with the public anyway. By allowing fairness to prevail, it has the net effect of allowing this essential arm of government to get back its lost lustre! Let the judiciary show the nation that they PLAY FAIR! Remember, this is the first time they have done things this transparently…we cannot allow them to sink back into infamy and ugliness now. They owe us, at least that much..

  3. SHIBOBO says:

    Very well said Mr Editor, but you forget that this is Zimbabwe. Malaba is of Kalanga origin, a subsidiary of the Ndebele tribe. Mugabe and his cronies are tribalists to the core. They cant stand Ndebeles. They only tolerate them. It would be taboo for a post such as this to be held by a Ndebele, an intelligent one for that matter.

    Mugabe and his cronies prefer dull bootlicking Ndebeles like the riff rough that he appoints to cabinet. People who would forever be grateful for being included in the gravy train, something that they would never have dreamt of in their lives.

    Yes, Justice Luke Malaba is the most qualified senior Judge. In any normal jurisdiction there would be no debate. But this is ZIMBABWE!!!!!

  4. C Frizell says:

    It is astonishing what the Asian Tigers have achieved. To me, the best illustration of how Politics and the system of government mightily determine the prosperity is to look at North and South Korea.

    In one, starvation is endemic and repression is total, in the other, obesity is a problem to the the huge economic success. I need to say no more, one country, one half a failure the other an amazing success

    So it is easy to see why ours is a Failed State

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