Aspirant judges to undergo aptitude test
THE Judicial Service Commission now requires aspiring judges to undergo an aptitude test in addition to extant nomination procedure ahead of interviews for the esteemed office set for October 24.
Aptitudes and behaviours are equally important in determining whether an individual is a good match for the job and institution.
Because of a candidate’s prior work experience, it may be easy to determine if they have the necessary skills and experience.
At least 51 candidates have applied to join the High Court bench. The interviews are set to begin on October 24, three days after the aptitude examination.
In an interview, JSC secretary Justice Rita Makarau confirmed the development.
She said all the nominees for judges’ interviews had been invited in writing for the “Behavioural Test” set for Friday in Harare.
“The behavioural test would be available on 21 October,” she said.
“The JSC has engaged a human resources consultancy firm to conduct the behavioural tests for us. We want objectivity and professionalism in the whole process.”
The results from the three-hour examination will not be disclosed to the public.
“The importance of the examination is simply to show the kind of person we are meeting at the interviews. It will reveal the aspirant judge’s decisiveness on issues. It tests your behaviour and shows the kind of person you are.”
Prominent Harare lawyer and senior partner at Scanlen and Holderness Mr Sternford Moyo commended the step taken by the JSC to add value to the selection process for judges.
“Although written examinations are not expressly provided for under Section 180 of the Constitution, it can be covered under the scope of the interviews,” said Mr Moyo.
“There is no limitation on what a panel interviewing candidates can do to gain as much information about the candidate as possible,” he said. Mr Moyo said what was important was attainment of the spirit and object of the Constitution.
The Constitution, he said, was to ensure that men and women of competency, integrity and independence were selected in a transparent manner.
“In my view, anything that enhances prospects of the process being effective ought to be encouraged bearing in mind the fact that where large numbers are involved, it may be difficult, given time limitations, to decide as to who meets the attributes of competency, integrity and independence,” he said.
Another lawyer Ms Sophia Matimba said such an assessment was important for anyone who sought to occupy the esteemed office of a judge of the High Court.
“It’s good because the interviewer will assess whether the interviewee is the right candidate for the job based on their past experience and skills,” said Ms Matimba.
“The interviewing panel will also be able to assess whether or not the interviewee is lying about his or her past experience.”
The interviews for judges next week would be the second since the coming into effect of new Constitution in May 2013, which provides for public interviews.
High profile women contesting for the eight vacancies at the High Court include Ms Sylvia Chirawu, the national co-ordinator of Women and Law in Southern Africa who teaches family law and estate succession at the University of Zimbabwe.
Ms Sheila Nyagumbo-Mahere, a former director at Musasa Project — a women’s organisation that deals with domestic abuse and former nonconstituency Senator is also in the running while Ms Emelia Muchawa is currently a Labour Court judge and former director of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association.
Other women candidates such as Ms Susan Muchaneta Mutangadura come with corporate experience. Ms Mutangadura is the current director of the Institute of Directors, while Mrs Bertha Muzangaza is a corporate lawyer and has sat on the board of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
Ms Gladys Pise is a former regional magistrate and has also worked as counsel to the Parliament of Zimbabwe. Male candidates aspiring to be judges of the High Court include Mr Arthur Johnson Manase of Manase and Manase, Mr Pisirai Kwenda of Kwenda and Associates, Mr Maxwell Chiwanza and Mr Benjamin Chikowero, a senior partner at Gutu Chikowero Legal Practitioners.
Former magistrate and undersecretary at JSC Mr Munamato Mutevedzi is also on the candidates’ list.