Fidelis Munyoro, Harare Bureau
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has expressed gratitude to President Mugabe for the trust reposed in him to serve at the helm of the judiciary for the past 16 years.
In his valediction during the official opening of the 2017 legal year, the outgoing Chief Justice said it was an honour conferred on him and his family.
“On a personal level, I wish to thank His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Comrade R G Mugabe, and, through him, the people of Zimbabwe from whom judicial authority is derived, for the trust reposed in me to serve in the highest judicial office in the land since 5 July 2001,” he said.
“A great honour was bestowed upon me and on my family when I was appointed to serve my country and my people as Chief Justice.”
Chief Justice Chidyausiku also expressed his appreciation and gratitude to the Deputy Chief Justice, judges, magistrates, and members of the judicial service who helped to make his work as Chief Justice tenable.
“As I take my leave, I want to assure you all that I enjoyed my tenure as Chief Justice because of your efforts and support,” he said.
Justice Chidyausiku was elevated to the post of Chief Justice in July 2001, at the height of the land reform programme.
He said he was leaving office a proud man and satisfied as he did his best to protect the Constitution and the laws of Zimbabwe.
“I assumed the position of Chief Justice during turbulent times after the people of Zimbabwe had decided to take back their land.”
The land reform, he said, split the judiciary into two contrasting views.
He said while there was a perception that it was unlawful to repossess the land, he belonged, to the view that the land issue was a political issue that had nothing to do with the judiciary.
“Whether the land was repossessed and redistributed in accordance with the legal framework created for that purpose, was the judicial issue,” said Chief Justice Chidyausiku. “The judiciary held the Government to account and ensured that repossession and redistribution was in accordance with the law.”
He said it was his task as head of the judiciary to ensure that the credibility of the judiciary remained intact by ensuring that the Executive adhered to the rule of law in its exercise of repossession and redistribution of the land.
“It was my role as Chief Justice to lead in the crafting of a solution that would uphold the independence of the Judiciary, restore faith in the rule of law as a guiding tenet of the State, and yet give expression to the aspirations of the people to fulfil one of the main reasons why they had waged the war of liberation,” he said.
“I look back with some degree of satisfaction that the solution that we offered collectively as a judiciary was both a statement of our independence to form our own opinions on how the law should be interpreted to serve the interests of the people it seeks to govern and at the same time, was reaffirmation that Zimbabwe is a nation where the rule of law prevails.”
He said their solution was based on established legal principles and did not seek to distort any established legal tenets.
“In that instance, the judiciary, under my leadership, was able to shape the jurisprudence of this country without violating the Constitution of the day,” he said.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku also took the grand occasion to advise his successor that he or she must be faithful to the Constitution at all times.
This, he said, would help avoid distorting established legal principles and uphold the rule of law even at personal cost to himself or herself.
The Chief Justice said the decisions on the land cases in the Supreme Court led to perceptions at home and abroad that the judiciary in Zimbabwe was not independent.
“This became apparent at regional level as I met with colleagues from the region,” he said. “I stood firm because I believed in the correctness of our decisions at law.”
“My stance on constitutionalism then and today as I leave the bench has not changed. Given the same situation, I would today make the same decisions that I made in 2001 on the land issue because I believe they are correct at law.”
High-ranking Government officials including Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, Harare Mayor Cllr Bernard Manyenyeni, lawyers, diplomats among others attended the event yesterday.
Article Source: The Chronicle