Fourth year University of Zimbabwe law student, Romeo Taombera Zibani has dragged outgoing head of the judiciary, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku to the Constitutional Court for allegedly unconstitutionally appointing a retired judge to preside over a Supreme Court appeal over the contentious Chief Justice’s interviews.
In a fresh legal offensive, Zibani through his lawyer, Jonathan Samukange, contends that Retired Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, who reached the 70-year mandatory age limit for retirement, last year was unconstitutionally reappointed by Chief Justice Chidyausiku in terms of section 168 (2) of the constitution.
He also submitted that he was legally advised that Justice Ziyambi having reached the age of 70 was no longer eligible for appointment and that her purported appointment was in contravention of section 186 (2) which clearly sets the limit of judges service to the age of 70 where they must retire.
Zibani adds that by appointing Justice Ziyambi, Chief Justice Chidyausiku, while fully aware of the constitutional provision setting an age limit, abused his office.
Zibani then submits that the Supreme Court bench of Justice Ben Hlatswawo, Bharat Patel, and Vernanda Ziyambi which presided over an appeal on the 13th of February was improperly constituted as required by the law as only 2 judges were qualified to be on the panel.
He seeks an order declaring the court proceedings and the outcome of that day a nullity and an order declaring the appointment of Retired Justice Ziyambi on the 6th of February 2017 unconstitutional and an order for Chief Justice Chidyausiku to pay the costs of the suit.
The latest development comes after several legal battles over the selection process of the chief justice.
Public hearings are currently underway to capture the views of the people on whether they are amenable to an amendment of the constitution to allow the President to appoint the chief justice, his deputy and the judge president in consultation with the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) as opposed to the public interview process.