Law society worried by harassment of legal practitioners

Pamenus Tuso

Bulawayo–Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has expressed concern over the repeated harassment of registered legal practitioners and a wave of dismissals of judges.

Addressing journalists in Bulawayo during a media engagement last Friday, the LSZ vice president, Lison Ncube, bemoaned the arrest and detention of lawyers in the course of their duty.

“We have faced instances where our members have been detained or arrested or deterred from conducting their duties.

“The case of (Tapiwa) Muchineripi and (Doug) Coltart is one example whilst the latest case involving Harrison Nkomo is another sad indictment on our criminal justice system,” said Ncube.

As NewsHub recently reported, Coltart and Muchineripi were last year arrested by police while representing two Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members who had been abducted and were receiving treatment at a Harare hospital while, in January this year, the law enforcers barred Nkomo from entering a courtroom despite identifying himself as a legal practitioner.

Police pointed a gun at Nkomo (above) at court

The police also pointed a gun at the lawyer, who was representing former Zengeza West legislator, Job Sikhala.

The LSZ vice president said they were monitoring the state of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Lawyers protesting

“Where we see signs of erosion of the rule of law, we raise our concerns and engage the relevant arms of state,” he said.

The United Nations (UN) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers obligate governments to ensure lawyers’ freedom to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

The principles also require that lawyers be adequately protected when their security is threatened.

The society was also disturbed by the recent dismissal of  judges, said Ncube.

“We are equally concerned about the rate at which judges are being referred to the president (of Zimbabwe) for the setting up of tribunals to inquire into the removal of judges from office in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution.

“The decision to refer a judge to the president is one not taken lightly and it is of great concern to us when this happens. We have shared our views on this issue with both the Judicial Service Commission and the Ministry (Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs) and have also made suggestions on how this situation can be averted,” said Ncube.

Supreme Court judge, Francis Bere and High Court judges Erica Ndewere and Thompson Mabhikwa have been fired by President Emmerson Mnangagwa following  recommendations by tribunals that he set up to probe the them over allegations of gross misconduct.

Disciplinary action taken against the judges has been viewed by government critics as retribution against them for passing judgments unfavourable to the president and government or for merely being politically incorrect.

The case of another High Court judge, Justice Edith Mushore is still being handled by a tribunal set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Last year, another judge, Webster Nicholas Chinamora, resigned from the bench ahead of a tribunal to investigate him following a litany of allegations that included gross misconduct, interference with the court of justice and being involved in cases in which he allegedly had conflict of interest.

His resignation aborted the tribunal since he had seized to be a judge.

At least six judges were dismissed between 2020 and 2023 for alleged misconduct.

Seven months before Chinamora’s exit, another judge, Martin Makonese, also resigned as soon as a tribunal was set up to try him for allegedly issuing an order in a case in which he had financial interest.

In 2020, President Mnangagwa fired Justice Francis Bere, a Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judge, for alleged undue interfering with a case under prosecution.

Ex-judge Francis Bere


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