29 as­pir­ing judges flunk in­ter­view, 4 chicken out

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Daniel Ne­mukuyu Harare Bureau

TWENTY-NINE as­pir­ing High Court judges have proved that they can­not write a judg­ment, an ele­men­tary skill that ev­ery judge must pos­sess.

For fear of more em­bar­rass­ment, four of the can­di­dates — part of the 10 lawyers lined up to be in­ter­viewed for the High Court judges’ posts yes­ter­day — chick­ened out and walked out of the wait­ing room with tails be­tween their legs.

The panel, that was made up of 10 com­mis­sion­ers from the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, had to ad­journ early af­ter deal­ing with the re­main­ing six can­di­dates.

Out of 43 can­di­dates who on Fri­day sat for a two-hour ex­er­cise to test the can­di­dates’ abil­ity to write judg­ments ahead of the pub­lic in­ter­views for the se­lec­tion of eight High Court judges, only 14 passed.

Dr El­iz­a­beth Rut­sate, Mr Gra­ciano Manyu­rureni, Mr Pass­more Mabukwa and Mr Cas­sian Jakachira, who failed the pre-in­ter­view ex­er­cise con­ducted on Fri­day, packed their be­long­ings and left the wait­ing room af­ter the an­nounce­ment of the writ­ten test re­sults.

In his re­marks at the be­gin­ning of the pub­lic in­ter­views yes­ter­day, Chief Jus­tice God­frey Chidyausiku reg­is­tered his dis­plea­sure over a poor show by the 29, say­ing judg­ment writ­ing skill was a pre-req­ui­site for all judges.

“I am some­what dis­ap­pointed to re­port that out of the 43 can­di­dates who turned up for the ex­er­cise, only 14 ob­tained a pass­ing mark of five and above out of the to­tal mark of 10.

“The Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion re­gards the writ­ing of judg­ments as the com­pe­tence of any judge. It is like the pos­ses­sion of a driver’s li­cence for all drivers,” said the Chief Jus­tice.

The ju­di­ciary ser­vices boss ad­vised those who failed the pre­lim­i­nary test to care­fully re­con­sider whether they should at­tend the pub­lic in­ter­views. “In view of the poor per­for­mance by most of the can­di­dates dur­ing the pre-in­ter­view as­sess­ment ex­er­cise, I am call­ing upon all those who did not pass this ele­men­tary ex­er­cise to in­tro­spect and de­cide on whether they want to pro­ceed with the in­ter­views or wait un­til they are ready and can pass this pre­lim­i­nary hur­dle,” he said.

Chief Jus­tice Chidyausiku said it was not an easy task for the JSC to rec­om­mend for ap­point­ment some­one who has failed the ba­sic level.

“We be­lieve that it will be dere­lic­tion of duty on the part of the JSC to rec­om­mend to the ap­point­ing author­ity, the ap­point­ment of a per­son who fails at this ele­men­tary level to ap­pre­ci­ate the na­ture of the mat­ter that is be­fore them or the is­sues that they have to de­cide, or the law ap­pli­ca­ble in re­solv­ing the mat­ter,” he said.

Chief Jus­tice Chidyausiku how­ever, said it was a con­sti­tu­tional right for all can­di­dates to par­tic­i­pate in the in­ter­views and per­suade the panel that de­spite their poor show­ing at the pre-in­ter­view stage, they should be ap­pointed to the High Court bench.

Mr Ben­jamin Chikowero of Gutu Chikowero Le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers was the first to ap­pear be­fore the panel.

He was among those who passed the pre-in­ter­view test and he told the panel that he was qual­i­fied for the post.

Bin­dura-based lawyer Mr Zvidzai Ka­jokoto of Ka­jokoto and com­pany was grilled over his per­sis­tence with the in­ter­view de­spite scor­ing 40 per­cent in the judg­ment writ­ing test.

Chief Jus­tice Chidyausiku said: “You want us to have faith in you when you demon­strated that you can­not write a judg­ment? Your mark was very low. It was four out of 10.”

Mr Ka­jokoto de­fended him­self say­ing it was his first time to write a judg­ment and that given a chance, he would im­prove.

“It was my first time to write a judg­ment given that I have never been on the bench. Given time, I will be able to write good judg­ments.

“If I got four out of 10 on my first judg­ment, then it means I am not that bad,” he said.

Mr Pisir­ayi Kwenda of Kwenda and As­so­ci­ates, who came tops in the pre-in­ter­view test with 83 per­cent, re­sponded to ques­tions with­out any glitch.

He ex­plained to the panel why he thinks he could be a good judge. “I chaired var­i­ous com­mis­sions of in­quiry for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties. I was never in­flu­enced by pub­lic opin­ion and I de­cided my cases fairly and in terms of the law,” he said.

Mr Kwenda is an ex­pe­ri­enced lawyer who worked in the At­tor­ney General’s of­fice and rose through the ranks to be head of the Ap­peals Sec­tion.

He left for pri­vate prac­tice and also presided over dis­putes as an ar­bi­tra­tor.

Drama un­folded when a Murewa-based lawyer Mr God­frey Macheyo got his chance to re­spond to ques­tions.

Mr Macheyo, a for­mer re­gional mag­is­trate, dug his own grave when he cited a High Court judg­ment to sub­stan­ti­ate his claims that he had ap­peared in the su­pe­rior courts rep­re­sent­ing clients.

The judg­ment, in fact, blasted him for do­ing a dis­ser­vice to his client and la­belled him a liar and a lawyer who pre­sented un­help­ful ar­gu­ments.

He was at­tacked left, right and cen­tre over the judg­ment by sev­eral com­mis­sion­ers who felt his con­duct was un­war­ranted in that par­tic­u­lar case.

The in­ter­views con­tinue to­day with 10 oth­ers ap­pear­ing be­fore the com­mis­sion­ers.

The truck whose load of sand buried three Zim­bab­weans af­ter it over­turned in South Africa

Chief Jus­tice God­frey Chidyausiku

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