Zimbabwe: 'We Make Sure Malaba Is Never CJ Again' - Biti

TOP Harare lawyer Tendai Biti, has vowed he, and his legal team will continue defending the country's Constitution and scuttle Luke Malaba's ambitions to remain as Zimbabwe's chief justice.

On 15 May, the High Court passed a landmark judgment that barred Malaba to continue holding the post of chief justice.

This was after human rights had filed a petition contesting the extension of Malaba's term of office by another five years that had been signed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa a few weeks before.

The High Court ruled the extension was unconstitutional and ordered Malaba to immediately vacate the office of the country's top judge.

However, Malaba has defied the order after Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and Attorney-General Prince Machaya appealed against the High Court order at the Supreme Court, and the chief justice is reporting for duty. The Supreme Court appeal is yet to be heard.

However, last week, the human rights lawyers, led by Human Rights NGO Forum director Musa Kika, filed an urgent High Court chamber application requesting the arrest and imprisonment of Malaba at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for being in contempt of court after defying the court judgment and continue reporting for work.

The matter was heard by Justices Amy Tsanga and Silvia Chirawu-Mugomba, and judgment was postponed to this week.

Biti, speaking to New Zim TV Friday, said Malaba's behaviour was "completely embarrassing" and he had "lost decency and legitimacy".

"We are not going to stop defending the Constitution and making sure that Malaba will never be the chief justice of Zimbabwe again. On the 15th of May 2021, we slept at 2 am. We are going to sleep at 3 am, at 4 am to make sure he is not the chief justice. We will not sleep again to ensure that we defend the Constitution and Malaba will never be the chief justice again," added Biti.

"Why would the Constitution be changed for one man? Why should one man accept such madness? He has lost decency and legitimacy. Only an unreasonable person is prepared to be dragged into the mud. His behaviour as a man is absolutely embarrassing. For a man who has been both deputy chief and chief justice for more than 10 years, he must be embarrassed.

"I'm also embarrassed to call myself a lawyer, and I want to go public and say that as long as Malaba is going to remain as the chief justice of this country, I will never appear and argue a case before him and call him chief justice because he is no longer the chief justice. His term of office ended on the 15th of May 2021," a fuming Biti told New Zim TV.

He advised Malaba, who has served the judiciary for more than 40 years, to do the humble thing and "retire and spend time with his grandchildren".

"Justice Malaba has been on the bench for 41 years. He is now 70-years-old. He is now a gerontocrat. Why would an old man want to exhaust himself with another five years in office? He has lost decency and legitimacy. Shame on him! His behavior is embarrassing," said Biti before accusing Malaba of being a pawn of Zanu PF politicians.

"What he has done is to decimate 41 years of loyal service to the law by agreeing to be a pawn of politicians. He wrote a terrible judgment to do with the election outcome brought by President Nelson Chamisa in 2018. They want him to write another terrible judgment for a yet to be stolen election 2023."

Zimbabwe is set to hold national elections in 2023.

However, a confident Biti said; "no stone will be left unturned to block Malaba's return to duty as it is equal to defend the Constitution. So we say to Luke Malaba, 'do the honourable thing and retire."

More From: New Zimbabwe

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