Nine High Court judges have been appointed by President Mnangagwa on the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission following the public interviews of 35 candidates conducted by the Commission. The new judges were sworn in by Chief Justice Malaba on Tuesday 29th September, the day after the appointments were announced.
In alphabetical order the nine new members of the High Court bench are:
- Hon. Kate Catherine Bachi-Muzawazi
- Hon. Joseph Chilimbe
- Hon. Samuel Deme
- Hon. Rodgers Manyangadze Foroma
- Hon. Never Katiyo
- Hon. Elijah Makomo
- Hon. Lucie-Anne Chipo Mungwari
- Hon. Munamato Mutevedzi
- Hon. Bongani Ndlovu.
Though all the appointees have the legal qualifications required by the Constitution, they bring with them varied legal backgrounds. Only two – Justices Bachi-Muzawazi and Ndlovu – come direct from private practice as legal practitioners. Justice Foroma has served as a Labour Court judge, but before that was in private legal practice. Three are experienced magistrates – Justices Mutevedzi [who was Chief Magistrate and before that deputy secretary of the Judicial Service Commission], Makomo [most recently JSC deputy secretary] and Mungwari [regional magistrate]. Two have been senior Government lawyers – Justices Katiyo [the Ministry of Industry and Commerce] and Deme [the Attorney-General’s Office]. And Justice Chilimbe is former legal counsel to a leading bank.
Only two of the nine new judges are women – Justices Bachi-Muzawazi and Mungwari. This will not disturb the existing gender balance of the High Court, as only two of the nine vacant seats were filled by women.
Cause of the Vacancies
Apart from retirements in the normal course of events, the need to fill so many vacancies at the same time arose from the promotion of five judges of the Supreme Court to the Constitutional Court in May 2021 and the resulting appointment of six High Court judges to the Supreme Court in June 2021 to bring the Supreme Court up to strength. The background to these events was described in Court Watch 11/2021 of 13th June 2021 [link].
New Permanent High Court Seat in Chinhoyi
In a Government Gazette Extraordinary published on 27th August 2021 it was announced that the Chief Justice had directed the establishment of a new permanent High Court seat at Chinhoyi with effect from 3rd September 2021 [link to General Notice 2525 of 2021]. The new High Court is part of the new Chinhoyi Courts complex, which also houses the magistrates court. The complex was commissioned by President Mnangagwa on 3rd September. This brings Chinhoyi High Court is the fifth permanent seat, coming after Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo. Speaking at the commissioning ceremony, the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs promised that by 2030 there would be a High Court in each of Zimbabwe’s ten provinces