High Court judge Justice Erica Ndewere will be facing a tribunal after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) recommended to President Emmerson Mnangagwa to set one up to look into her suitability to hold office, reports Herald.
According to the state run, newspaper, Justice Ndewere is facing allegations of misconduct and conduct inconsistent with being a judicial officer.
Her suspension from the bench will be automatic by operation of law once the tribunal is put in place.
If the tribunal clears her, she returns to the bench; if the tribunal makes other findings and recommendations she could well lose her post.
However, exiled former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo says Mnangagwa could be persecuting the judge for granting MDC Alliance deputy chair, Job Sikhala bail.
Sikhala is out of prison on bail after he was arrested on allegations that he wanted to incite the public to demonstrate against the Mnangagwa led government.
The judge released Sikhala on $50 000 bail and also urged the police to maintain professionalism in their conduct.
In her ruling, the judge attacked the police of using social media in their investigations instead of establishing their own independent probe.
She said Sikhala’s conduct was not of a fugitive running from the law, but he was fleeing from unidentified men who were following.
And Moyo says Mnangagwa who is being accused of using the law to persecute political opponents and those of opposing views was angered by the granting of bail to Sikhala, hence is now victimising the judge.
“The fact that this is happening following widespread reports that Mnangagwa was enraged by Justice Ndewere’s granting bail to Job Sikhala raises a stink to the high heavens!” says Moyo.
Meanwhile, the tribunal is not a criminal court, but can report that certain conduct is not consistent with holding judicial office.
This brings to two the number of judges that have allegedly conducted themselves in a manner that constitutes judicial misconduct, and which calls for a tribunal hearing.
Supreme Court judge Justice Bere is on suspension pending the outcome of the tribunal that probed him and is now compiling its report to the President.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza yesterday confirmed that JSC had referred the matter to President Mnangagwa, the appointing authority, for a judicial tribunal in terms of the Constitution.
“The JSC has referred to the President a recommendation to set up a tribunal to inquire into the question of removal from office of Justice Erica Ndewere, a High Court judge,” she said without giving details of the allegations levelled against the judge.
“A tribunal will be constituted very soon and in terms of the Constitution, the judge will be suspended once the tribunal has been set up.”
Justice Bere’s three-member tribunal chaired by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako last week completed its inquiry into Justice Bere’s fitness to hold the office of a judge.
However, Justice Bere’s investigations were concluded in his absence after he and his legal team walked out on the proceedings in protest over the tribunal’s refusal to have one of its members, Advocate Takawira Nzombe, recuse himself because of his alleged links to Harare lawyer Mr Itayi Ndudzo, who was a crucial witness in the inquiry.
Justice Bere faced the tribunal on the recommendation of the JSC after MrNdudzo accused the judge of interference in a civil case involving the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) and his relatives.
Justice Bere was serving on both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court benches when he was suspended in March this year.
The tribunal sought to establish whether or not Justice Bere conducted himself improperly in violation of the oath of office and the Constitution by interfering in the matter at the centre of the inquiry.