Statement in Response to Comments by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi

ON 15 May 2021, the High Court of Zimbabwe in the urgent applications of Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe and Musa Kika issued an order to the effect of which was to inter alia confirm that the term of office of Honourable Justice Luke Malaba had expired and he had ceased to be the Chief Justice of Zimbabwe after attaining the age of 70 years.

In a statement issued on the same day, Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs although professing to respect the above decision proceeded to criticise and demean both the decision and the Honourable Judge, who on behalf of the High Court delivered the judgment.

The criticism is in our view intemperate, less than measured and not befitting of an Honourable Minister of the Government of Zimbabwe.

It also contained threats to judicial independence which are unacceptable in a democratic nation and are inconsistent with the doctrine of the separation of powers as enshrined in our Constitution.

We are further concerned and disturbed by the patently false narrative in the statement that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), is using money to capture various state institutions and to destabilise the Government of Zimbabwe.

There is not an iota of truth in these reckless and defamatory allegations. The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs knows this only too well.

ZLHR is a law-based organisation of law abiding legal practitioners whose sole objective is to promote and support observance of the rule of law and the promotion of constitutionalism.

In our efforts we have collaborated with both civil society and various arms of the Government of Zimbabwe; the Minster of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will attest to this. We have litigated extensively in order to defend the indigent and defenceless and to uphold the rule of law. In this respect, our work speaks for itself. We take strong exception to the false and defamatory statements of and about ZLHR and our rights in this respect are fully reserved.

While we do not wish to comment on a matter which may very well be the subject of an appeal we point out that in our law a litigant who is unhappy with a court decision has the option of an appeal, where this is available and is not entitled to demean the court that handed down the decision or threaten unlawful action against the successful litigant or vent their anger on third parties, regardless of how disappointed they may be with the outcome.

The statement by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs does enormous disservice to Zimbabwe and its citizens and sends the wrong message to all those who cherish justice and the rule of law.

It is our hope that on reflection, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs will withdraw these gratuitously offensive, defamatory and false claims against ZLHR and his contemptuous utterances against the judiciary as they are unwarranted and harmful to the interests of Zimbabwe.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

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