Courts and Law

Visually-impaired lawyer top contender for High Court Judges posts

A visually-impaired lawyer is among the 36 candidates shortlisted for interviews for the vacant posts of Judges of the High Court of Zimbabwe.

For a country conscious of the need to have people with disabilities represented at all levels and the composition of the judiciary to reflect the diversity of the population, Samuel Deme (45), a visually impaired lawyer’s bid for the bench is a remarkable development.

The Mirror reports that Deme is the only candidate among the 36 living with a disability.

Deme is not only experienced but has made a name for himself in the legal circles. He is the deputy director in the Department of Legislative Drafting in the Attorney General’s office and has held this post since January 2013. The Department of Legislative Drafting is responsible for drafting all Government legislation.

Deme and the other 35 lawyers are vying for nine posts left vacant after the promotion of several judges to higher courts. The shortlist followed an invitation to the public and the President to nominate suitably qualified persons for the bench in terms of section 180 (4) of the constitution.

Public interviews for the posts were supposed to be held from July 26 to 29 2021 but were postponed indefinitely due to Covid 19.

Prior to his appointment as deputy director, Deme worked for 10 years at the Legal Aid Directorate (2003-2013) which provides legal aid services to the needy.

Deme who was born in Mataruse and grew up in Soti Source in Gutu fell blind due to measles in 1982 when he was six. He did his primary education at Kapota School for the Blind in Masvingo from 1985 to 1992 and his high school at Mutendi from 1993 to 1998.

Deme is the only candidate among the 36 living with a disability.

From 1999 to 2003, he studied for a Bachelor of Laws honors degree at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). It is on completion of his first degree that Deme joined the legal aid directorate. He then studied for a Masters in Women’s Law from the same University and completed in 2010.

Several African countries have promoted the inclusion of people living with disabilities in the judiciary systems. In South Africa for example, renowned former Constitutional Court Justice Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob who was blind is recognised as one of South Africa’s finest legal minds.

Yacoob who became blind at 16 months due to meningitis served as Acting Deputy Chief Justice.

There is a common misconception within the African society that people living with disabilities cannot perform equal duties nor hold top managerial positions at workplaces compared to their non -disabled counterparts. – Masvingo Mirror

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