HARARE, Zimbabwe — Lawyers in Zimbabwe have taken to court to challenge the extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s tenure following contentious amendment of the constitution.
The lawyers together with the opposition argue that the amendment is a violation of the country’s charter.
According to them, the amendment extended Malaba’s term in office and has also given Mnangagwa the power to appoint judges of the Constitutional and supreme courts instead of going through public interviews.
They also claim that the constitution only allows changes to term limits to be made through a referendum.
In papers presented to the court, the lawyers cited the Chief Justice (Malaba) and all the 16 judges of the constitutional and supreme courts as respondents in this case. The judges have opposed the court challenge.
The government has however said it has not breached the law since it only changed Malaba’s retirement age.
Malaba’s tenure was extended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa whose ruling party ZANU-PF took advantage of its majority in parliament to change the constitution.
Before the amendment the retirement age of senior judges in Zimbabwe was 70 years, however parliament has now changed it to 75years if one proves to be in good health.
Malaba will be turning 70 on Saturday and was due to retire but following the changes, he will continue to occupy the seat.
Chief Secretary to the cabinet said Malaba issued a medical report to the president showing he is physically and mentally fit.
On Friday, the High Court will hear preliminary arguments before confirming a date for the full hearing.
According to some legal experts, Zimbabwe could be heading towards a constitutional crisis should the court dismiss the case and the lawyers appeal.
If the lawyers appeal, they will then have to face the same judges they have cited in their court challenge.