9 July 2019

Zimbabwe: Aspiring High Court Judges Undergo Public Interviews

The two-day public interviews for the eight posts of judges of the High Court opened in Harare yesterday with the first batch of 10 aspiring candidates being interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission's nine-member panel.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba led the interviews asking a set of four standard questions.

The questions included naming three types of jurisdiction the High Court has in criminal matters and in what circumstances does the Prosecutor-General have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court against a judgment of the High Court in a criminal matter.

Interviewees were also required to explain the principles governing the exercise by the High Court of jurisdiction in respect of arbitral awards brought to the court for review.

Chief Justice Malaba said speedy disposition of cases is a constitutional obligation on every judicial officer, and asked how do the interviewees intended to ensure, if appointed, speedy disposition of cases while at the same time ensuring a fair hearing to those appearing before them.

Advocate Webster Chinamora, who was the first to be grilled, acquitted himself well applying his mind with aplomb of a veteran lawyer, as he was comfortable fielding questions from the panel.

When asked to tell the commissioners his greatest strength and weakness, he said he was an avid researcher who loved analytical thinking and writing.

"You have before you my curriculum vitae and a sample of some of the work I have done which demonstrates my aptitude for research and analytical thinking which I think is an essential asset of a judge," he said.

He also referred to his impressive record of academic publications, which includes three-book chapters, one of which is in the Encyclopaedia of International and Comparative Private Law.

However, Zvishavane-based lawyer Mr Tichaona Chivasa had a bad day in office as he struggled with questions, some of which were elementary.

He had a nightmare in answering the first standard question on the jurisdiction of the High Court on criminal matters.

Mr Chivasa came for the interviews despite the fact that he failed the test on the writing of a judgment. He was, however, allowed to exercise his right to participate in the public interviews.

Bulawayo-based lawyer Mr Christopher Dube-Banda put up a sterling performance in the manner he answered questions.

He said he was a man fit for the job given the fact that he had garnered sufficient layers of experience throughout his 25 years in private practice.

"If appointed I will take it upon myself deal with the cases before me as expeditiously as possible," he said with a voice booming with authority.

"I will not sit on cases placed before me. I can say that am a diligent person and consider myself a hard working person. I am not that kind of person who leaves things for tomorrow. I deal with things as they come and am conscious of the Constitution on this requirement and the rights of people appearing before courts."

Not to be out done was Labour Court judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa, who left the panellists unanimously content with her work and judicial intelligence.

The other six interviewees are Sheila Kanyangarara, Cemis Madembo, Benhilda Manyowa, Simba Mawere, Emilia Muchawa and Richard Mufuka.

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