Justice Bere challenge against setting up of probe team tossed

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE High Court Tuesday dismissed a challenge made by suspended Supreme Court Judge Francis Bere over the legality of a Tribunal set up to determine his fitness to continue holding office.

Bere was accused by a lawyer of trying to influence a civil case involving a Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) boss and his relatives.

The Judicial Service Commission later recommended an inquiry to which President Emmerson Mnangagwa set up a three-member judicial panel chaired by retired judge Justice Simbi Mubako to probe Bere over misconduct.

Through his lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, Justice Bere wanted the High Court to set aside the JSC decision arguing that the complaint was a falsehood meant to tarnish his name.

However, Justice Benjamin Chikowero dismissed Bere’s application after hearing submissions by both parties recently.

“I do not think it necessary for the applicant to effectively be a judge in his own cause by submitting before this court that the basis upon which the JSC advised the President was petty,” said Justice Chikowore.

“It goes to the substance of that which the tribunal is to investigate, make findings and recommend on.”

Bere has denied the charges, before challenging the whole tribunal.

He is seeking to invalidate Proclamation 1 of 2020, the legal instrument issued by Mnangagwa, at the request of the JSC, to set up the tribunal.

Bere, was serving on both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court benches, and was suspended in March this year, pending a probe into potential misconduct.

It is alleged that he called Itai Ndudzo, who was representing Zinara, asking him to consider settling a civil dispute pitting Zinara against Fremus Enterprises.

Complaints against him were raised before Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza during a court hearing and Ndudzo was asked to make the complaint in writing.

In his defence, Justice Bere claimed he only contacted Ndudzo in the context of their personal relationship, dating back to the days when they were both members of the Zimbabwe Football Association Ethics Committee.