The High Court has ruled that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to extend Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s tenure by five years was invalid because it breached the constitution.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which employs all judges, said the decision means that Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza becomes acting chief justice pending the outcome of an appeal.
Lawyers had challenged a constitutional amendment that raised the retirement age of Constitutional and Supreme Court judges to 75 from 70, which allowed Mnangagwa to extend Malaba’s term of office by another five years.
The High Court judges ruled that Malaba, who turned 70 on Saturday, had ceased being chief justice due to his age.
“In view of the decision that we have reached, Hon. Malaba ceased being a judge and chief justice” on May 15, the judges said in a ruling.
The court said the constitutional amendment should have gone to a referendum before becoming a valid law.
It also said that under Zimbabwe’s constitution, incumbent judges could not benefit from a term extension.