JSC seeks new chief justice

HARARE - The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has begun the hunt for a new chief justice to replace retiring Godfrey Chidyausiku.

Chidyausiku retires next year and his successor is set to begin his or her term of office on March 1, 2017.

“The JSC announces that a vacancy of chief justice of the Republic of Zimbabwe will arise by operation of law on 1st March 2017,” the JSC said, adding that “in terms of Section 180 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, members of the public are hereby invited to nominate suitably qualified persons to fill the . . . position”.

Chidyausiku — born in February 1947 — graduated as a law student in 1972 before going into private practice as an advocate.

He was an MP in the Rhodesian Parliament, representing the Harare African Roll Constituency.

He later became a Zanu MP after the 1980 election and served briefly as deputy Local Government minister, deputy Justice minister before being appointed the attorney-general in 1982.

Chidyausiku later became a High Court judge in 1987 before being elevated to the position of judge president of the High Court.

He became chief justice in 2001.

According to Veritas — an organisation that gives information on the work of courts and Parliament — in order for one to be appointed a judge, he or she has to be at least 40 years old, be a Zimbabwean citizen or has been working as a judge before. The candidates are subjected to public interviews and three qualifying candidates’ names are submitted to the president, for appointment.

“The next chief justice does not have to be one of the current Supreme Court judges.  She or he could come from the High Court bench or even from the legal profession, as long as the qualifications are satisfied . . . Chidyausiku went from judge president of the High Court to chief justice.”

“A person with no previous judicial experience could be appointed, but she or he would have to have at least 10 years’ standing as a qualified legal practitioner. Such an appointment would be unprecedented, at least in this country,” Veritas said.

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