Zimbabwe Cleric Urges Judges to Be Impartial. (News)

Article excerpt

Methodist Bishop Cephas Mukandi, who heads his denomination in Zimbabwe, has implored judges and magistrates in the country to resist political pressure and "courageously shun selective justice" imposed by the governing party in that strife-torn African nation.

"We must shun selective justice that treats other children of God as second-class citizens," Mukandi told guests at the opening of the legal year at Zimbabwe's high court in Harare in mid-January.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and a United Nations human rights investigator have accused the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) party of interfering with the judiciary and packing the Supreme Court with its sympathizers.

The government increased the number of Supreme Court justices from five to nine in 2001, although the bench fell back to five judges after the incumbent Chief Justice Antony Gubbay and Justices Nicholas McNally and Ali Ebrahim were pressured to resign. Another justice, Simbarashe Muchechetere, died in December of 2001.

Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs, had accused the three justices of serving the interests of white commercial farmers when they declared as illegal the government-backed farm invasions in early 2000 by veterans and supporters of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war. …