Staff writer | PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has made a proclamation that a tribunal be established to inquire into the question of the removal from office of Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa following a case of alleged inappropriate conduct which was highlighted by the media.
The tribunal will be chaired by Retired Justice Maphios Cheda, the Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza who will also be the secretary to the Tribunal while Mr Chaka Mashoko and Mrs Phillipa Magnify Phillips are members.
Justice Mabhikwa is accused of having an intimate affair with one of his support staff in Bulawayo. Nude pictures also found their way into the public domain. The judge is a widower. The tribunal shall be held for a period of five months from the date of swearing in of its members and is expected to present a report at the conclusion of the inquiry. According to the Proclamation, the terms of reference are as follows;
“To investigate into the matter of the removal from office of the Honorable Justice Thompson James Mabhikwa, to investigate into the matter of Hon Justice Mabhikwa’s conduct, whether or not the it can be deemed to have been tantamount to gross misconduct, to investigate whether or not Hon Justice Mabhikwa (a) Committed acts of sexual harassment (b) possessed pornographic material,” read the Proclamation.
It further seeks to consider all information submitted by the Judicial Services Commission in order to arrive at an appropriate recommendation to the President, to investigate any other matter which the Tribunal may deem appropriate and relevant to the question of removal from office of a Judge in terms of the Law and to also recommend on whether the Honorable Judge is fit to hold office in light of foregoing.
The Proclamation also highlights that the Tribunal must report to the President in writing, the results of the inquiry within a period of three months in a public and private inquiry as determined by the Tribunal.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe, provides that, a judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of his or her office, due to mental or physical incapacity, gross incompetence or gross misconduct.