The High Court will this week hear an application by Justice Erica Ndewere, who is seeking to block the setting up of a tribunal to look into her judicial conduct, pending the determination of the legality of the process adopted.
Justice Davison Foroma moved the hearing to Wednesday to allow President Mnangagwa and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to file their responses to the application today (Monday) before the parties’ counsel make oral arguments in chambers.
Law officers from the Attorney-General’s Civil Division sought the postponement for them to file opposing papers on behalf of President Mnangagwa and Minister Ziyambi.
Before granting the postponement, Justice Foroma requested that parties file heads of argument. He directed the Civil Division to file opposing papers by Monday and ordered that Justice Ndewere file her heads of argument by morning on Tuesday and all the respondents by 3pm on the same day.
Justice Ndewere is seeking the court’s intervention after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) made recommendations to the President to set up a tribunal to look into the question of whether or not she was fit to hold office after being reported for slipshod work and delayed judgments.
She is facing charges of conduct inconsistent with a judicial officer.
In her urgent application, Justice Ndewere claimed the misconduct allegations leveled against her were victimisation for refusing to comply with “unlawful orders”.
It is Justice Ndewere’s contention that Chief Justice Malaba brought about disciplinary proceedings against her without complying with the provisions of the Judicial Services Code of Ethics Regulations as read together with the Constitution.
She accused the JSC of prematurely advising the President to set up a tribunal to investigate her without first setting up a disciplinary committee comprising of three judges as per the standard disciplinary procedure for judges.
This, she argued, infringes upon her right to administrative justice, equality before the law and right not to be treated in an unfairly discriminatory manner.
Justice Ndewere said since the President was in the process of setting up a tribunal to investigate her, if this was not interdicted, her rights would be violated and her dignity impaired.
In addition, the setting up of a tribunal will result in her automatic suspension based on a fatally flawed process, she said.
Justice Ndewere’s suspension from the bench will be automatic by operation of law once the tribunal is put in place.