Justice Webster Chinhamora, currently under investigation by a tribunal for alleged misconduct, has received a significant cash payment of USD 400,000 for a house purchase. This surprising development has raised questions about the prioritization of junior judges over more senior members of the judiciary.
Justice Chinhamora’s receipt of this substantial sum has sparked public outrage, particularly due to the fact that he is considered a junior judge in comparison to the heads of departments within the judicial system. The decision to fast-track this payment ahead of more senior judges’ privileges has left many in the legal community and the public demanding answers.
The circumstances surrounding this payment remain shrouded in mystery, and concerns are mounting regarding potential impropriety or favoritism. The timing of this financial transaction, while Justice Chinhamora faces a tribunal for alleged misconduct, has only deepened the intrigue and cast a shadow of suspicion over the judiciary’s integrity.
The public call for transparency and accountability has heightened, as the judiciary grapples with a crisis that threatens to erode trust in the legal system. Investigations into this unusual payment are expected to intensify, with calls for an immediate explanation from judicial authorities as to why a junior judge has been granted such a substantial privilege ahead of his more senior colleagues.
The complaint against Justice Chinhamora was initiated by Advocate Thabani Mpofu and pertains to a series of allegations, including conflict of interest, judicial misconduct, bribery, and various forms of corruption. These allegations have cast a dark shadow over the judge’s tenure, prompting the establishment of a panel by the JSC to review the complaints. The panel, consisting of judges Anne-Marie Gowora, Alfas Chitakunye, and Custom Kachambwa, concluded that Chinhamora indeed has a case to answer.
The specific complaint that initiated this investigation was lodged by another attorney, Advocate Taona Nyamakura. It centers around alleged conflict of interest in a legal dispute involving Zimbabwe’s Delta Beverages (Pvt) Ltd, Schweppes Zimbabwe Ltd, and Blakey Plastics (Pty) Ltd, a South African company.
Justice Chinhamora’s case now hinges on constitutional provisions. According to section 187 of the constitution, a judge can only be removed from office for reasons such as the inability to perform the functions of the office due to mental or physical incapacity, gross incompetence, or gross misconduct.
Sub-section 3 of this constitutional provision mandates that if the JSC advises the President to investigate the removal of any judge, a tribunal must be appointed. This tribunal, in accordance with sub-section 4, must consist of at least three members, with specific qualifications and experience.
The tribunal’s responsibility is to inquire into the matter and subsequently report its findings to the President, along with a recommendation on whether or not the judge should be removed from office.
With these developments unfolding, the situation remains fluid and fraught with legal and ethical complexities. The timing of the $400,000 payment, coupled with Justice Chinhamora’s active lobbying for his position, adds layers of intrigue to an already contentious matter, casting a long shadow over the judicial system’s credibility. Investigations and legal proceedings are expected to intensify in the coming days as Zimbabwe’s legal community and the public closely watch these significant developments.