Fidelis Munyoro, Harare Bureau
The Judicial Service Commission yesterday held public interviews to fill two vacancies at the Supreme Court and will forward a list of successful candidates to President Mnangagwa to choose from.
Presently, judges manning the Constitutional Court are the same judges presiding over appeals in the Supreme Court.
Five judges racing for the two positions appeared before the JSC led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba where they did their best to outdo each other during the interviews.
First to be interviewed was Justice Felistus Chatukuta. She told the interviewing panel that once elevated to the Supreme Court she would bring value addition to the appeals court given her vast experience and rich background having served in the Attorney General’s Office and the judiciary as a judge of the High Court for a long period.
“I believe that I can add to the Supreme Court my research and analytical skills,” she said. “I have been lucky to have been a legal adviser in Government and entailed carrying out extensive research and that contributed tremendously to the judgments that I now write.”
Justice Alfas Chitakunye, who has a strong bias towards children’s rights and succession, which in most cases he sought to develop the law, said if he succeeds in going to the Supreme Court he would be of immense value.
He said his experience as a member of African Committee of Experts on Rights and Welfare of Children will impact positively in his work on the Supreme Court bench on rights issues particularly in the interpretation of the law.
Justice Chitakunye has been a member of the continental body looking at children’s rights for the past five years where he has been dealing with the rights and welfare of children, making analyses of state party reports on how member states are implementing the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of Children and also interpreting the various provisions that affect children and assist member states to understand the international instruments.
Another interviewee, Justice Charles Hungwe, said he had vastly improved to the extent that he was now ripe to join the superior bench given his work at the high court.
He was recently seconded to the Lesotho High Court where he is currently based.
“The Supreme Court requires people who have a forward looking vision, a vision which says we must move with time and amenable criticism and able to improve ourselves not only in acquiring degrees but in applying the knowledge that we gathered in our journey of life for the society’s benefit,” he said.
Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, who has previously failed twice, said he had the requisite qualities to make it to the Supreme Court.
To his credit, he has churned out more than 800 judgments since he joined the High Court bench 10 years ago, and the panel appeared to unanimously agree that his work was beyond exceptional.
Out of the 800, Mathonsi had only three judgments that were overturned in the Supreme Court. He also did not have a backlog of reserved judgments at the time he was invited for interviews.
“I have the necessary qualities needed at the Supreme Court, having failed to make it in the previous occasions,” he said.
“I am supremely confident the reason why I was not considered is either the commission or appointing authority was looking for certain other qualities in the judges that were appointed which qualities I did not have.”
“Surely on the third occasion, these qualities that I possess are the ones that I have used for the appointment.”
Justice Samuel Kudya said given his experience, judicial intellect and diligence, he deserved the appointment. He is currently manning two courts — the Fiscal Court of Appeal and Income Tax Appeals Court. He also does work for the Electoral Court and the High Court.