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HUMAN rights defenders and opposition parties yesterday cried foul over President Robert Mugabe’s unrestrained attack on the judiciary, saying the move amounted to Executive interference and muzzling of judiciary independence.
Addressing Zanu-PF youths in Harare on Saturday, Mugabe described as “negligent and reckless” judges, who, in the past weeks, have sanctioned political demonstrations against the Zanu-PF government.
Respected lawyer and former Harare mayor, Muchadeyi Masunda, said the four pillars of government have been emasculated since 1980 to the point that they were now compromised.
“Regrettably, since the advent of Uhuru (independence) in April 1980 in Zimbabwe, we have witnessed a relentless and insidious emasculation of the other three pillars of governance by the Executive mainly through the patronage system, which has been so fine-tuned that the segregated roles of the hallowed pillars of governance have become not only blurred but also seriously compromised,” he said.
“As we all brace ourselves for the post-Mugabe era, we must strive towards the restoration of the rule of law, which will entail, among other things, respecting and abiding by court orders, respecting property rights and respecting of human rights.”
Constitutional law expert, Alex Magaisa, said the threats were typical of Zanu-PF’s reactions when cornered.
“The comments against judges and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission are typical of Zanu-PF’s reaction to anything that is different and critical of the government. They have always bullied judges and other critics, so this is not new. But this is a big test for the judiciary and the human rights commission, to demonstrate their independence and integrity,” he said.Magaisa urged judicial officers to remain steadfast in defence of the principle of separation of powers between the judiciary and Executive arms of government.
“If they buckle under pressure from the government, then Zimbabweans will be left vulnerable,” he said.
Human rights lawyer, Alec Muchadehama said: “In the past, the State and other rogue elements used unlawful means including violence to hound members of the judiciary out of the system. Some members stood up to the bullying tactics of the State, while others tactfully retreated. Of course, some were cowed and left or decided to play ball.”
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said: Mugabe should be told, in no uncertain terms, that the judiciary should be free and independent from executive and/or political interference. As someone, who claims to hold a law degree, Mugabe should, at the very least, appreciate the fundamental principle that the three arms of the State, which are the Executive, the judiciary and the legislature, should be independent of each other.”
PDP spokesperson, Jacob Mafume accused Mugabe of trying to subvert the Constitution.
“It’s a cynical predetermined attack on State institutions, where Mugabe has placed himself above everyone else and the Constitution.
“He wants the whole country to bend to his will, where he thinks that anything that he does is inherently legal, as he believes God has placed him above every Zimbabwean,” he said. source-newsday