Court Rejects Lawyers’ Push For Malaba Imprisonment

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Mary Taruvinga

THE High Court has overturned an urgent chamber application by top human rights lawyer, Musa Kika who was calling for imprisonment of the embattled Chief Justice Luke Malaba for allegedly breaching a court order which outlawed his continued stay in office.

Malaba did not stop reporting for duty despite the Justice Happias Zhou ruling he had ceased to be the country’s top-most judge on May 15, 2020, upon reaching retirement age of 70.

High Court judge Justice Slyvia Chirawu-Mugomba dismissed Kika’s application, only reading the operative part.

“…The application for the imprisonment of the first respondent for contempt of court be and is hereby dismissed,” said the judge.

Kika’s lawyer Wilbert Mandinde of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said they will map the way forward after getting the full judgement.

Malaba was ousted from office following an application by Kika, who is also director of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, to declare his continued holding of office as unconstitutional.

This was after President Emmerson Mnangagwa had extended Malaba’s term by five more years after “establishing” that the controversial court official was physically and medically fit to continue holding office.

Mnangagwa said the courts should be respected despite that the justice ministry had filed a notice to oppose the judgement by Charehwa.

Following reports that Malaba is still in office, Kika filed another urgent court application calling for the judge’s incarceration.

In his draft order, Kika had requested that Malaba be found in contempt of the judgement of the High Court by Zhou, Mushore, Charehwa, and consequently be ordered to pay sum of $1 million.

He also prayed that Malaba be committed to Chikurubi prison for a period of six months all of which is suspended on grounds “that he shall forthwith and immediately after service of this order, cease exercising the functions of Chief Justice of Zimbabwe either in a judicial or administrative capacity.”

Also cited as respondents in the application is the acting CJ Elizabeth Gwaunza, Parliament of Zimbabwe, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and the Judicial Services Commission.