Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on Monday revealed that he has no regrets over a ruling he made in 2001 which led to the government repossessing land from white farmers to the black majority.
The outgoing Chief Justice who was officially opening the 2017 legal year at the Constitutional Court in Harare said if he is get the same opportunity to make that ruling again, he would stand by it.
“I took over these reigns during a turbulent time which saw people of Zimbabwe taking back their land. This split the judges bench into two with one part saying the land reform program was illegal while another school of thought did not see it that way.
“However, If I could get the same opportunity to make the ruling again, I would stand by that because I do not regret making the decision,” said Chidyausiku.
Chidyausiku, who will retire at the end of March, was appointed in 2001 replacing Justice Antony Gubbay who was forced to take an early retirement after the Supreme Court under his leadership had ruled that the land reform exercise was an illegal.
His leadership was marred by controversies as opposition and civic movements felt his rulings favored Zanu PF.
In his last speech, Chidyausiku lashed out at some judges whom he said are sleeping on the job saying he made strides to address such cases during his tenure, making it one of the most successful terms of office by a Chief Justice.
“I applaud the cordial relationship that has been nurtured in the justice delivery system and I hope this grows from strength to strength.
“In the previous year, I have stepped on the toes of judges when I bemoaned the poor number of judgments that they had made. It is encouraging however to note that many have answered to my call although one or two judges’ performances remain poor,” he said.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku revealed that the Judicial Service Commission even asked him to reprimand one such judge and they made it clear that they want judge to write judgments and not just make determinations.
Chidyausiku, who paid homage to President Robert Mugabe, said “The Judiciary under my leadership was able to shape the jurisprudence of this nation without violating the Constitution. My successor should be faithful to the Constitution and my stance on constitutionalism has not changed.
“The Judicial Service Act in 2006 was one of the major milestone events to happen under my tenure although it took four years to bring the Act into action,” Chidyausiku said while adding that the Act transformed the legal fraternity in the country.
Commenting on the debate surrounding his succession Chidyausiku said it was unfortunate that the debate has been allowed to go on although there is much ado about nothing.
“The debate, in my view, has been allowed to drag on for long, but there is much ado about nothing. It has obscured one important fact namely that no-matter which method is used to select my successor, the Chief Justice is appointed by the President and it is his choice that he selects my successor,” he said.
Chidyausiku said after the adoption of the Constitution in 2013, there was an increase in litigation cases at the Constitutional Court.
In 2014, 88 constitutional applications were filed and peaked to 129 in 2015 before dropping to 78 in 2016. Also, additional judges were appointed to the Supreme Court following the creation of the ConCourt in light of the Constitution in 2013.
Chidyausiku will vacate office in March this year after more than 16 years at the helm of Zimbabwe’s Judicial system.
Antony GubbayChief Justice Godfrey ChidyausikuJudicial Service CommissionZANU PF