President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to appoint a new deputy chief justice of his choice anytime soon, a top government official has said.

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Chief Justice Malaba’s appointment created a vacancy in his former post of deputy chief justice, which is one of the three senior judicial posts the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2017 affected.

While it has been unclear if Mnangagwa would attempt to apply the new procedure to a deputy chief justice vacancy that arose before the constitutional amendments became law, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministry permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza told the Daily News yesterday the appointment will be done in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2017.

“The appointment is being done by the president in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill No. 1 of 2017, in terms of which he has the discretion to appoint a person of his choice in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

“All I can say is that the process has already started in that direction. I know something is being done and I think very soon a new deputy chief justice is going to be appointed,” Mabhiza said.

This means Mnangagwa will not appoint the new deputy chief justice in terms of constitutional procedure of a JSC advertisement, public interviews and all.

This means the president, since a replacement of the deputy chief justice that was promoted, will use his discretion to pick an incumbent of his choice, then consult the JSC.

Mabhiza could not give a timeframe within which the new deputy chief justice could be appointed, saying the president was in the best position to know.

Even though it is not yet clear on the person to be appointed the deputy chief justice, Elizabeth Gwaunza, who is the most senior Supreme Court judge is tipped to bag the post, together with Supreme Court judge Paddington Garwe and Judge President George Chiweshe.

Parliament passed the controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 1 Bill in August last year, following a protracted battle that even spilled into the courts.



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