Chief Court Reporter
LAWYERS representing suspended High Court judge, Justice Erica Ndewere in the inquiry of her suitability to hold the office of a judge want Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Permanent Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza removed as secretary of the tribunal, arguing she is compromised.
Through her lawyer, Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, Justice Ndewere argued yesterday that Mrs Mabhiza as member of the Executive, wielded powers to influence the proceddings.
She said members of the executive should not be involved in matters to do with employment or dismissal of members of the Judiciary, arguing this would result in the miscarriage of justice.
Mrs Mabhiza, who is the head of secretariat and spokesperson of the tribunal confirmed the preliminary points being raised against her.
“They raised preliminary issues trying to discredit the officially appointed secretariat,” she said without giving finer details.
After hearing the objections from the defence and the prosecuting counsel, the tribunal chairman Retired Judge, Justice Simbi Mubako postponed the matter to a later date to rule on the preliminary issues.
Justice Ndewere is denying the charges of gross misconduct in the performance of her duties, including failure to clear her workload in reasonable time and failure to properly study the file on a thief’s conviction and sentence when she set aside a jail term.
She accused Chief Justice Luke Malaba of pursuing her after she defied his unlawful orders.
The Constitution provides that a judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, due to mental or physical incapacity, or gross incompetence, or gross misconduct.
President Mnangagwa appointed a tribunal to investigate allegations of misconduct against her on recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in November last year.
Justice Ndewere was appointed to the bench in 2013. Before her appointment as a High Court judge, Justice Erica Ndewere was the president of the Labour Court.