By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent
THE recent surprise resignation of Kariba resident magistrate Tafadzwa Mhlanga citing “burnout” was a culmination of pressure from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to quit or face dire consequences, fresh details show.
Mhlanga was reportedly being persecuted over a slew of alleged acts of misconduct.
Information obtained by NewZimbabwe.com however suggests magistrate had become an annoying thorn in the flesh for his JSC bosses.
Sources said Mhlanga has a highly acrimonious relationship with JSC secretary Walter Chikwanha and chief magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi from as far back as 2018 when he was stationed at a court in Mvuma.
Sources said Mhlanga was ordered by the Midlands provincial magistrate to surrender the Mvuma station vehicle, a Ford Ranger, in exchange for an older, accident-damaged Mazda BT 50 truck.
The argument was that Mhlanga was a junior resident magistrate compared to a Kwekwe resident magistrate who was to be allocated the Ford Ranger.
Sources said Mhlanga vehemently challenged the withdrawal of the car citing preferential treatment of JSC staff.
This did not go down well with chief magistrate Mutevedzi, who reportedly reprimanded him for insubordination over his complaints.
Following his unexplained redeployment to Kariba in January 2020, Mhlanga is said to have reported a vehicle breakdown whilst in Kadoma to the provincial head for Mashonaland West province, but the alarm was not acted upon until April 2021.
“JSC demanded an explanation from Mhlanga on why his station vehicle was parked in Kadoma. Despite his explanation, the commission proceeded to charge him for misconduct for alleged failure to make a timeous report,” a source said.
“Mhlanga wrote a lengthy response to the alleged misconduct charge, attaching messages from his mobile phone showing that he had communicated with the provincial head and senior staff members at Kadoma Court soon after the breakdown in January 2021,” the source added.
In a sudden turn of events, the JSC stopped Mhlanga’s hearing and, instead, proceeded to charge the provincial head for her failure to act on the breakdown report.
Mhlanga was advised he was now a star witness against the provincial head.
A hearing for his boss was slated for June 2021 and July 2021, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was postponed indefinitely until his resignation last month.
Since January 2021, the source further revealed, Mhlanga was using his personal vehicle to conduct the commission’s work, including banking of funds received at the station, but was not getting fuel reimbursement.
Information at hand suggests that since his forced deployment in 2020, the magistrate was travelling twice a month from Kariba to Chiredzi, around 900 kilometres, in order to spend time with his family.
The commission was repeatedly refused to accept his voluntary transfer on three occasions.
Another source revealed that in his request for transfer, the former magistrate narrated his unfortunate events in Kariba that included various break-ins and thefts at his house in the resort town.
Frustrated, Mhlanga resigned letter mid-September describing his working relationship with JSC as frosty.
The disgruntled law officer also exposed the excessive workload he endured at the Kariba JSC outpost working as a one-man station following the voluntary resignation of another magistrate, Bianca Mahere.
Efforts to get comment from Chikwana and Mutevedzi were fruitless by the time of publishing.