Lawyer demands judges interview marks be released

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) have been taken to court by prominent human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa who wants them to release the results of the Supreme Court judges’ interviews conducted two years ago.

By Wongai Zhangazha

Eight judges, namely Justices Charles Hungwe, Lavender Makoni, Alfas Chitakunye, Francis Bere, Samuel Kudya, Nicholas Mathonsi, Joseph Mafusire, Priscilla Chigumba, Francis Bere and Lavender Makoni, were interviewed to fill four vacancies on the Supreme Court bench. Bere and Makoni were appointed to the bench in May.

In her application at the Masvingo High Court yesterday, Mtetwa said the JSC should produce the scoresheets in respect of each candidate interviewed on September 29 2016, a dated copy of the list of qualified nominees matching in number the advertised vacancies, plus two and any and all correspondence exchanged between the JSC and the President between September 29, 2016 and May 11, 2018.

She is also demanding that Mnangagwa appoint from the list submitted to him by the JSC, the remaining two judges to fill the four vacancies in order of their ranking on the list submitted to him.

The JSC is cited as the first respondent, while Mnangagwa is the second respondent.

Mtetwa said judicial officer Munamato Mutevedzi from the JSC declined to release the scoresheet on the basis that it was “confidential”. “In terms of Section 68 of the Constitution, I am also entitled to administrative conduct which is lawful, prompt, efficient, fair, reasonable and both substantively and procedurally fair. Without the information I have sought being provided, it would be impossible for me to ascertain that the decision to appoint only two of the judges in fact met the criteria set out in Section 68 of the Constitution. It would be impossible to determine whether the process followed is in fact procedurally and substantively in sync with the provisions of Section 180 of the Constitution,” she said.

“. . . In the absence of the information sought from the first respondent, it would be impossible to determine whether the President has, in fact, followed this constitutional prescript. Section 90 (1) of the Constitution also requires that ‘the President must uphold, defend, obey and respect this Constitution as the supreme law of the nation and must ensure that this Constitution and all other laws are faithfully observed’. As an avid consumer of the justice delivery system, I am entitled to know whether the President in fact acted in accordance with the provisions of Section 90.”

Mtetwa said the failure to exhibit transparency in how the process unfolded will discourage fit and proper candidates from seeking appointment to the bench.

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