Zimbabwe: Chief Justice Appears to Respond to MDC Criticism

Chief justice Luke Malaba.
16 January 2019

Chief Justice Luke Malaba called Monday for "respect of legal processes and decisions", defiantly stating that insulting judges will not set aside court rulings.

The country's top judge made the remarks while officially opening the 2019 judicial year in Harare on Monday.

"Court decisions are not and will not be set aside by insulting judicial officers who make the decisions and denigrating against the judicial officer," he said.

The comments were likely a response to the bitter row over the unanimous Constitutional Court ruling dismissing the challenge by MDC leader Nelson Chamisa against the July 30 presidential election results.

A furious opposition condemned the court ruling with MDC legislators booing and heckling Justice Malaba and calling him a "thief" in Parliament during the swearing-in of the Speaker last September.

In his speech Monday, the chief justice insisted that the rule of law requires that decisions of the court should be respected even where litigants do not agree with them.

"A party does not have to agree with the decision, he or she or it does not have to denigrate the person of the judicial officer," he said.

"It is against this background that I call upon all litigants and the general population to respect legal processes and legal decisions."

"It does not matter how much you agree or disagree with the decision arrived at by the court. That decision-making by the courts is foundation upon which the concept of the rule of law is built."

He added; "Court decision may only be challenged by following proper legal processes such as appeal or review, this is the bedrock of the concept of the rule of law.

"Let us all respect our constitutional agencies and institutions, it is us Zimbabweans who put them in place."

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