By Professor Matodzi
Harare, August 21, 2013 – Judge President Justice George Chiweshe has enlisted 13 High Court Judges to show up at the inauguration ceremony for Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe, who on Tuesday was declared the winner of last month’s disputed presidential elections.
Chiweshe, who in 2008 chaired the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which presided over the violent and controversial harmonised elections and the discredited June 27 presidential re-run election held the same year instructed the thirteen judges serving at the High Court in Harare to attend Mugabe’s swearing in ceremony to be held at a Chinese built football pitch in Harare on Thursday.
“The following judges are expected to attend the above swearing in ceremony to be held on Thursday 22 August 2013 at a venue and time to be advised,” reads part of a memorandum dated August 20 addressed to the judges and seen by Radio VOP.
Some of the judges include Justices Susan Mavangira, Chinembiri Bhunu, Felistas Chitakunye, Hlekani Mwayera and Joseph Mafusire among others
Chiweshe said judges will be served with copies of the programme for the swearing in ceremony, which will be presided over by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.
Mugabe, who has been in power since independence in 1980, appoints the country’s judges and they have frequently granted decisions and judgments in his favour including being lenient to his Zanu PF party since 2000 when the country descended into political and economic turmoil.
Mugabe has since 2000 been purging judges who dared to thwart him and packed the courts with tame judges, virtually all of whom owe their jobs to the octogenarian leader’s Zanu PF party.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has also criticized the judiciary for not being independent from the executive and politically from Zanu PF party. The MDC-T leader charges that Mugabe has since 2009 when they formed a shaky coalition government appointed and elevated 23 judges to the High Court, Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court without consulting him as Prime Minister in contravention of some provisions of the Global Political Agreement and the Constitution.
But this criticism on Tuesday earned Tsvangirai a hiding from Bhunu, who said such censure was an insult to and contemptuous of the High Court.
Mugabe’s loyalists are planning to make his swearing in ceremony a high profile event distinct from previous inauguration services in a desperate bid to confer legitimacy following allegations of vote rigging by his main challenger, Tsvangirai, who is set to boycott the event.
The state-run Herald newspaper on Wednesday said up to 30 serving and former heads of state and governments will attend the ceremony.
On Tuesday, Chidyausiku cleared hurdles to Mugabe’s swearing in ceremony after he threw out a legal challenge by Tsvangirai alleging massive electoral fraud. Chidyausiku said the disputed elections, which have been condemned by local rights groups and western governments were “free, fair and credible.”