Harare, January 23, 2014 – A ZIMBABWEAN court has censured a High Court Judge who recommended the prosecution of lawyers for former Prime Minister and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai over an alleged criticism of judicial officers.
In August, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ordered the prosecution of Tsvangirai lawyers after he attacked them for “bringing the integrity of the judiciary into disrepute.”
The criticism of the lawyers came after the MDC-T leader’s lawyers, Advocate Lewis Uriri, Dr Tarisai Mutangi and Alec Muchadehama had filed two urgent chamber applications in the Electoral Court seeking access to some voting materials to prove alleged electoral fraud in the July 31 elections in which he lost to Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe.
Later, Tsvangirai withdrew his presidential petition, citing reservations over some judges whom he alleged were not independent from the executive.
Justice Bhunu not only dismissed Tsvangirai’s request to be furnished with some election and voting materials and launched an attack on the MDC-T leader describing him as someone of an “unbalanced” mindset but also went on to urge the country’s prosecuting authorities to act against his lawyers.
The High Court judge had claimed that the lawyers had acted unethically after they sought to rely on an MDC-T dossier criticising the judiciary and recommended that the “errant” lawyers should be “reigned in” for bringing the “court’s integrity into disrepute.” He advised the Registrar of the High Court to serve a copy on the then Attorney General Johannes Tomana “for appropriate action according to the law”.
However, Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba sitting with Justices of Appeal, Paddington Garwe and Ben Hlatshwayo, who on Thursday heard Tsvangirai’s appeal against Bhunu’s judgment, set aside the part of the High Court order in which Justice Bhunu had recommended the prosecution of lawyers.
Justice Bhunu has become infamous for chiding lawyers. In 2012, he reprimanded human rights lawyer Charles Kwaramba after he reportedly granted a local daily newspaper, the Daily News an interview portraying the judiciary as biased against the MDC-T party by not releasing some murder suspects on bail.