Harare – Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s opponents together with the country’s legal fraternity have reportedly applauded the recent appointment of the southern African nation’s chief justice Luke Malaba.
According to New Zimbabwe.com, Malaba was set to replace chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausike who stepped down at the end of February.
The 66-year-old former deputy chief justice was appointed to the highly contested top judge post on March 27 after a bruising battle within the ruling Zanu-PF factions.
Both the ruling Zanu-PF party factions who were allegedly led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Mugabe’s wife Grace respectively had their preferred candidates.
The Mnangagwa led faction was reportedly backing Judge President George Chiweshe while the rival faction allegedly led by Grace preferred Judicial Service Commission secretary Justice Rita Makarau.
But during the shortlisting process held by the country’s Judicial Service Commission last year, Chiweshe failed to pitch at the interviews and as a result, he was disqualified.
Following the interview process, Malaba who was regarded by the opposition parties as the right candidate emerged as the leading candidate with a 92% mark while his closest rival Makarau scored 90% and the third candidate Paddington Garwe obtained only 52%.
The Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai said that the incoming chief justice was “good man”.
“It is a legal and constitutional appointment. There was no need for the Zanu-PF apparatchiks to try to meddle with the constitution,” MDC general secretary Douglas Mwonzora was quoted as saying.
The state owned Herald newspaper said that the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), legal experts and legislators had also welcomed Mugabe’s appointment of the former deputy chief justice.
LSZ was quoted as saying that “Zimbabweans and the legal profession would benefit immensely from his vast experience spanning over 35 years”.