Rights lawyer calls for chief justice to be jailed

A Zimbabwean human rights lawyer has filed an urgent court application seeking to have the country’s chief justice jailed for allegedly defying a court order.

The High Court recently ordered Chief Justice Luke Malaba to step down, ruling that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to extend his tenure by five years was illegal and unconstitutional as the judge was 70 years old.

A recent constitutional amendment passed by parliament raised the retirement age of senior judges from 70 to 75.

But the High Court ruled it could not apply to judges currently in office and would need to be put to a referendum for them to do so.

Mr Malaba returned to work this week, according to a state-run newspaper, after the justice minister and attorney general appealed the ruling.

Human rights lawyer Musa Kika, who is executive director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, filed his urgent application on Tuesday.

He argues that the appeal does not suspend the lower court’s ruling.

He wants Mr Malaba jailed for six months but says the sentence should be suspended if he ceases to work.