President Robert Mugabe’s regime is reportedly moving ahead with plans to axe High Court judge Justice Priscilla Chigumba, who last month angered the 92-year-old Zanu PF leader by ruling against a police ban barring opposition political parties and pro-democracy groups from staging protests in central Harare.
A report in the state owned but Zanu PF controlled says Chigumba could soon be investigated for bribery after the Judicial Service Commission determined that she has a case to answer.
Justice Chigumba allegedly demanded US$20 000 from a litigant, Mr John Kanokanga of Harare, for her to deliver judgment in his favour. Mr Kanokanga is said to have lost the case after spurning the judge’s offer.
The matter came to light as Justice Chigumba was being considered for promotion to the Supreme Court in September 2016. According to the latest report the JSC met in Harare last Thursday and recommended an investigation.
According to procedure, this recommendation will be transmitted to President Mugabe who is empowered by law to appoint a tribunal to look into the matter.
In that case, Justice Chigumba will be suspended from duty pending the outcome of proceedings. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku could neither confirm nor deny the development when contacted for comment yesterday.
“I cannot confirm or deny that because all matters of communication between the Judicial Service Commission and the President are subject to confidentiality.”
In response Justice Chigumba denied the allegations. She said Mr Kanokanga, by his own admission, was not mentally sound.
“Mr Kanokanga, during the course of the trial, had indicated that as a result of this eviction, he had become unable to function and had to be treated by doctors for a mental disorder which arose as he said, from the fact that he had been impoverished by the eviction.
“He was very bitter. So, to answer your question, I did not directly or indirectly do or cause anything to be done which, is inconsistent with my oath of office as a judge or my duty to dispense justice without fear or favour or prejudice.
“I would like Mr Kanokanga, if he has any evidence that he can avail to the commission of whatever it is, that he is alleging to avail such evidence because an allegation which is baseless and without foundation, in my view, ought not to be allowed to influence anything that is adverse towards me unless and until it is substantiated,” said Justice Chigumba.