By Mary Taruvinga
THE Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Monday finally held the long-awaited public interviews to select a panel of local judges who will make up the country’s Constitutional Court bench.
This was done to fill up vacancies which have not been occupied resulting in five acting Con-Court judges being overstretched.
According to JSC, the public interviews constituted the third step in of the process under Section 180 of the Constitution which the Commission must follow when the appointment of a judge other than the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice or the Judge President of the High Court is required.
After the interviews have been completed, the Commission must prepare a list of its nominees for submission to the President.
The President is obliged to make his appointments from the list, although in the unlikely event that he considers that there are not enough suitable candidates to fill the five vacancies, he can ask the JSC for a further list which will then be binding on him.
Eight judges were interviewed.
These include Justices Energy Chinembiri Bhunu, Paddington Shadreck Garwe, Anne Mary Gowora, Ben Hlatshwayo, Rita Tambudzai Makarau, Smart Mirirai, Bharat Patel and Happias Zhou.
They were interviewed by a panel presided over by the Chief Justice Luke Malaba.
Bhunu was the first one to be grilled and promised never to comment about politics outside court.
Commenting on the doctrine of separation of powers, Garwe said when other government arms go beyond their powers, it was the power of the Constitutional Court to determine what was constitutional and what was not.
Gowora struggled through the interview.
She said she does not understand the meaning of Constitutional Order and fears giving the wrong answer.
“I was not able to attend any judicial seminars because these have to be authorised by the JSC and they are expensive to foot individually, in order to upgrade my CV,” she said.
Gowora also said she was not computer literate enough to find online seminars and usually does not have time to search for these to upgrade herself professionally.
In terms of a backlog on her judgments, her workload is overwhelming such that she reserves judgments so as to deal with them on a case by case basis, clearing them accordingly.
Hlatshwayo, Makarau and Mirirai, Patel and Zhou also tried to impress the panel in their best way.
Mirirai has legal experience in the courts.
He is Superintendent ZCDC Security Service Chiadzwa.
“He has experience in investigations, peace and security, monitoring elections and policing, which justify his application as a Constitutional Court judge.
He said, “The bench should be diversified to allow those who have served the State and have experience from other sectors to be part of it.”
Bhunu is a Supreme Court Judge, Garwe, Gowora, Makarau and Patel were acting Con-Court judges.
Zhou is currently serving as High Court judge.