Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has appointed retired judge Justice Maphios Cheda to head a tribunal that will investigate misconduct allegations against Justice Edith Mushore of the Harare High Court.Justice Mushore is attached to the family law court at the High Court.
Other members of the tribunal are Mr Charles Warara and Mrs Yvonne Masvora.The tribunal must finish its investigation within five months of being sworn-in.
The tribunal will also investigate and establish whether there is evidence of gross incompetence and misconduct on the judge’s part.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) formally advised President Mnangagwa on February 25 to constitute a tribunal to determine whether Justice Mushore should continue as a judicial office after she didn’t report for duty for nine months.The recommendations were done in terms of Section 187 (1) and (3) of the Constitution to ascertain if the judge is still mentally and physically fit to continue working.Section 187(1) of the Constitution provides that a judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office due to mental or physical incapacity, gross incompetence, or gross misconduct.
Section 187(3) of the Constitution provides that, if the JSC advises the President that the question of removing a judge from office ought to be investigated, the President must appoint a tribunal to inquire into the matter.
“Now, therefore, under and by virtue of the powers vested in the President as afore said, I do, by this proclamation, establish a tribunal to inquire into the question of removal from office of the Honourable Justice Edith Mushore appoint retired Justice Maphios Cheda; as chairperson of the tribunal, appoint the Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mrs Virginia Mabhiza, to be the secretary to the tribunal, direct that the tribunal shall be held for a period of five months from the date of swearing in of members, at such appropriate venue as shall be determined by the tribunal, direct that the report shall be availed at the conclusion of the inquiry,” read part of the proclamation.
The terms of reference, according to the proclamation, shall be to investigate the matter of the removal from office of Justice Mushore, investigate whether or not there is a reasonable explanation for her failure to report for work without authorisation.
“To investigate into the matter of Honourable Justice Edith Mushore’s conduct, whether it can be deemed to have been tantamount to gross misconduct, to consider all information submitted by the Judicial Service Commission in order to arrive at an appropriate recommendation to the President, to investigate any other matter, which the tribunal may deem appropriate and relevant to the question of removal from office of a judge in terms of the law, to recommend on whether the honourable judge is fit to hold office in light of the foregoing, to report to the President, in writing, the result of the inquiry within a period of five months from the date of swearing in of the members, direct that the inquiry shall be held both in public, or privately, as the exigencies of the tribunal may determine.
”Since June last year, the JSC has unsuccessfully tried to contact the judge to hear her story and her whereabouts remain unknown.Justice Mushore allegedly last reported for duty on June 14 last year and is yet to give a formal explanation.Judges cannot be absent from work for more than three days without official leave and if unwell they are asked to submit a doctor’s report.
Efforts by her superiors in the judiciary to get an explanation and invitations for her to send her driver with a doctor’s report have been in vain and no one from the JSC has been able to gain admittance to her home.
The Judge President of the High Court has since allocated Justice Mushore’s cases to other judges to ensure litigants get justice within reasonable time.When initially asked for an explanation, she indicated that she was unwell, but she did not submit a sick note.
Article Source: The Chronicle