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Prof Madhuku fires back at critics as Justice Malaba case takes new twist

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  • Madhuku said he was simply representing his client even though he did not agree with his political views, adding, “That is what I’m trying to put across when responding to Jonathan. He is saying maybe lawyers look for clients but we never do that.”

CONSTITIONAL law expert Professor Lovemore Madhuku on Sunday fired back at critics who accused him of supporting the Zanu-PF led Government after he took up a case that seeks to nullify the High Court ruling that ended Luke Malaba’s tenure as Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice.

Madhuku filed a Constitutional Court challenge on behalf of a Zanu PF activist Marx Mapungu of Bulawayo who on Friday filed a court application arguing that President Emmerson Mnangagwa acted appropriately and constitutionally by extending Malaba’s term of office.

The High Court ruled on May 15 that Malaba had ceased being a judge and Chief Justice after reaching the retirement age of 70 and that Mnangagwa had violated the law by giving him five more years.

In his application, Madhuku’s client says he is “seeking an order varying or not confirming an order of constitutional invalidity made by the High Court of Zimbabwe in Judgement no HH264/21 handed down on May 15, 2021 by a three-member panel.”

“I believe the President of Zimbabwe acted constitutionally when he accepted the medical report on the mental and physical fitness of the Honourable Justice Luke Malaba.”

He adds: “In so doing, the president was approving the honourable justice’s election to continue in office as chief justice for an additional five years.

“As a citizen, I believe the chief justice is in office in accordance with the constitution following the aforesaid acceptance by the president of the aforesaid medical report.”

Madhuku, after receiving attacks on Twitter including from former Cabinet Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, with whom he bantered extensively, defended fighting in Malaba and President Mnangagwa’s corner.

The University of Zimbabwe law lecturer argued that as an attorney, he had a mandate to represent all clients without discrimination, even those whose political views were not in lockstep with his.

The back-and-forth started with Moyo commenting: “This is a Prof. Madhuku-led application to rescue both Malaba and Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 2. Interesting times!”

Madhuku shot back: “All my clients are Zimbabweans enjoying to the full, the constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice.”

Hit by the response, Moyo, a self-exiled former G40 kingpin, charged: “The principle you espouse here Prof. Madhuku is indeed sound; but no one needs an inner legal eye to understand that the reality on the ground is that, just like busses in Africa wait for passengers, agenda-pursuing lawyers in Zimbabwe shop for litigants: it’s the Zibani strategy!”

And Madhuku retorted: “Agenda-pursuing lawyers! I understand what you mean. When I took instructions in this matter I was very much alive to it but I have never taken, and will never take, it into account. I am only humbled by the fact that some clients prefer me in politically sensitive matters.”

In a later interview with ZimLive, Madhuku said he was simply representing his client even though he did not agree with his political views, adding, “That is what I’m trying to put across when responding to Jonathan. He is saying maybe lawyers look for clients but we never do that.”

He concluded: “Why would I look for clients, I have no personal relationship with anything, my personal political views are actually the opposite of what my client wants but this is not about my politics, it’s my professional work. You go to court on the basis of the law as it is. The law is not politics.”

Madhuku, who leads the opposition National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) political party, is on record criticizing Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 2) Act, which made Malaba’s stay possible. □

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