Judiciary Defends Zimbabwean Judge’s Supreme Court Appointment

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Following a backlash by opposition parties in appointing Zimbabwean judge, Rita Makarau as an acting judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia, the Judicial Service Commission yesterday justified the appointment, saying Makarau’s appointment was based on the Commission’s recommendation and her prior judicial experience in the position, having worked as a Judge President and a Judge in the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.

The Commission’s Secretary, Sakeus Akwenda reiterated that President Hage Geingob’s appointment of Makarau, who is the former Chairperson of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission was made after the recommendation. Makarau, he said, worked as a Prosecutor and an Attorney.

“Lady Justice Makarau presently serves as a Judge of the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe. The Commission considered it apt to recommend the appointment of a seasoned female judge such as Lady Justice Makarau to mentor Justices Hannelie Prinsloo and Esi Schimming-Chase. Such consideration and recommendation is based solely on her suitability to serve on the Bench, her professional qualifications and experience as well as her expertise,” he added.

The trio will serve from April 2023 to March 2024.

Shortly after the announcement of Makarau’s appointment, opposition parties such as the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), and the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) questioned the appointment.

The Judiciary also said a lack of female representation on the Supreme Court bench remains an issue of significant concern hence the appointment of Makarau.

“The Commission wishes to reiterate that the lack of female representation on the Supreme Court Bench remains an issue of significant concern and it has previously undertaken to earnestly address this issue. To this end and in an effort to alleviate the Supreme Court’s workload, the Commission resolved to recommend the appointment of three female acting judges to serve on the Supreme Court Bench for the period 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024,” said Akweenda.

IPC Chief Patriot Panduleni Itula described Makarau’s appointment as “justice betrayed” citing the judge’s role as chair of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Makarau reportedly had close affiliations to the Robert Mugabe Zanu-pf led government.

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