Wednesday, 11 March 2020

TRIBUNAL TO PROBE SUPREME COURT JUDGE


President Mnangagwa yesterday swore in a three-member tribunal to inquire into the suitability of suspended Supreme Court judge, Justice Francis Bere, to continue holding office.

This follows allegations that he interfered with a pending civil court case involving the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and his relatives.

Justice Bere was suspended last week. This prompted President Mnangagwa to set up a tribunal chaired by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako and comprises Advocate Takawira Nzombe and Mrs Rekayi Maphosa.

President Mnangagwa said he appointed the tribunal after receiving a letter from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) dated January 15, 2020.

He said the letter advised him that the question of the removal from office of Justice Bere ought to be investigated.

“Now, therefore, I Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the President of Zimbabwe, by virtue of powers vested in me, call upon Retired Justice Simbi Veke Mubako (Judge of Appeal) to take the oath of office,” said President Mnangagwa.

Speaking after the swearing-in ceremony yesterday, Justice Mubako said the tribunal would start work next week, but could not disclose how long it will take to complete the mandate. 

“We are just going to start setting up our programme and we do not know how long it is going to take. It will depend on the evidence that is going to come and the complexities of the case. We do not know it yet,” said Justice Mubako.

He said a lot was expected of a judge, adding that they are supposed to be fit and proper.

Judges are required to uphold the dignity of the court and of justice in general and must have virtue.

Justice Mubako said President Mnangagwa wished the tribunal all the best of luck, and advised the members that he was confident they would deliver.

“We are starting work today (yesterday) laying the foundation, but proper work may start any time this week or next week,” he said.

It is alleged that Justice Bere telephoned Zinara lawyer Mr Itai Ndudzo of Mutamangira and Associates, asking him to consider settling a civil dispute pitting Zinara and Fremus Enterprises (owned by the judge’s relatives).

The complaint was first raised before Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza during a court hearing before Mr Ndudzo was asked to complain in writing. Herald

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