PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday swore in Justice Rita Makarau and Mr Jacob Mudenda as chairpersons of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission respectively at State House.
Justice Makarau, who is also Supreme Court Judge, takes over from Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe who retired last month on medical grounds while Mr Mudenda took over from Professor Regis Austin who resigned three months ago.
Briefing journalists soon after a brief ceremony of the duo's swearing in, Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the swearing in of Justice Makarau put paid to a court challenge mounted by National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Professor Lovemore Madhuku.
Prof Madhuku had filed a Supreme Court challenge on the basis that ZEC deputy chairperson Mrs Joyce Kazembe did not meet the legal requirements to act as chair since the constitution stipulated that the incumbent should either be Judge of the High Court or Supreme Court or someone qualified as such.
"It means ZEC now has a substantive chairperson in view of the fact that it will run two major events, the referendum and elections," said Minister Chinamasa.
He said there was no basis for Prof Madhuku to launch the court challenge because any organisation at some point would suffer a challenge where the post of a chairperson would become vacant for various reasons.
"It's nonsensical to suggest that such an organisation would go without a chair. Mrs Kazembe was legitimately acting as chair," he said.
The Minister said there was no need for the Supreme Court to hear the case because the outcome was of no consequence given the swearing in of Justice Makarau.
"She will remain a judge the same way as what Justice (George) Chiweshe did when he was ZEC chairperson, he remained judge of the High Court," said Minister Chinamasa.
Justice Makarau said she was aware of the "daunting" task ahead of her.
She said her preoccupation at the moment was to apprise herself with the decisions made by the Commission so that she could also own them.
"My priority is to find out what decisions have been made and why they were done, so that they become my own as well," she said.
She commended Mrs Kazembe for holding fort before she assumed office as acting chairperson.
"It's going to be a daunting task. I am coming in to join a process that has already started. Mrs Kazembe has been doing a wonderful job," she said.
Mrs Kazembe said all was now set for the referendum.
Speaking at the same occasion, Mr Mudenda expressed optimism that the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission would discharge its work consistent with their terms of reference.
"We hope that we will be able to achieve the mandate given to us by the enabling Act and other national, and international statutes," he said.
Asked if he would be able to discharge his responsibilities professionally given his past link with one of the political parties in the Global Political
Agreement, Mr Mudenda said decisions would be collective and guided by the law.
"We are guided by the Paris Principle. There is no way my background would affect me. We work as a collective and by consensus," he said.
Yesterday's event was attended by commissioners from both ZEC and ZHRC.