Autonomy of Judiciary must be sacrosanct

HARARE - In recent times, Zimbabwe has witnessed instances where the country’s Judiciary has had its arms amputated by another arm of government, especially the Executive.

There were a number of cases which were before the courts which sadly got trashed by the country’s top officials and those enjoying proximity to power.

Last year, former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo — who has since been fired from the ruling Zanu PF and is reportedly in exile — was accused of siphoning over $400 000 from the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef).

Zimdef gets its funds from contributions from the corporate world, which is required by law to contribute towards the development of the country’s manpower.

Moyo, who until his sacking from both party and government was Tsholotsho North legislator, claimed then to have used the funds to purchase bicycles for chiefs in his constituency.

It is important to note that Moyo did not deny siphoning the money but obviously hoped the use he purportedly put the money to would sanitise the whole thing.

There was entirely nothing wrong with Moyo taking his case to the Constitutional Court because — like any other citizen — he is entitled to these avenues in seeking justice.

What is, however, surprising is that former first lady Grace Mugabe, who had suddenly discovered the amount of power at her disposal by virtue of being the then president’s wife, used political rallies to “acquit” certain individuals.

She went on to exonerate Moyo — whose tenure at the ministry of Information had very few admirers as it came up with equally controversial pieces of legislation like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) — declaring that he was innocent at one political rally she addressed.

This led to the crumbling of the case before the courts then but Zimbabweans will obviously wait with bated breath to see whether the case will die, now that there are new heads at the Justice ministry who may be keen to see the case finding closure.

The presidential youth interface rallies she and her husband addressed had become platforms at which they would assume judicial powers.

Combative and brash former Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who had been rejected by his home province of Mashonaland Central, was also declared innocent by the former first lady. She said then; “Kasukuwere is going nowhere.”

Former vice president Phelekezela Mphoko at one time controversially ordered the release of Zimbabwe National Roads Administration officials — acting chief executive officer Moses Juma and board chairperson Davison Norupiri who had been arrested on allegations of abuse of office and fraud, arguing that their arrest was not justifiable.

There are several land barons who have escaped the clutches of the law because of political connectedness. All these cases must be revived so that the culprits have their day in the courts. Proximity to power must never be used as a route to “innocence”.

In any political setup, it is important for the respective arms of government to remain autonomous and not interfere with each other.

The Judiciary is an important arm of government, which is entitled to its independence.

The three pillars of the government, that is, the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature must exist separate from each other as the arrangement ensures there are checks and balances all the time.

The conflation of party and State was a direct result of the absence of this separation of powers, which must remain sacrosanct.

Where a line is not drawn between the different arms of government, problems are always bound to occur.