The Judiciary of Zimbabwe

The Judiciary

Zimbabwe is a sovereign republic and is known as “the Republic of Zimbabwe.” Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution that other law is, to the extent of the inconsistency, void.

Under the Constitution of Zimbabwe 21 Dec 1979

Section 79  Judicial authority

(1) The judicial authority of Zimbabwe is vest in
(a) the Supreme Court; and
(b) the High Court; and
(c) such other courts subordinate to the Supreme Court and the High Court as may be established by or under an Act of Parliament.

(2) The provisions of subsection (1) may not be construed as preventing an Act of Parliament from
(a) vesting adjudicating functions in a person or authority other than a court referred to in subsection (1); or
(b) vesting functions other than adjudicating functions in a court referred to in subsection (1) or in a member of the judiciary.

Section 79A  Judiciary

The judiciary of Zimbabwe is consist of

(a) the Chief Justice, who is the head of the judiciary; and
(b) the Deputy Chief Justice and the other judges of the Supreme Court; and
(c) the Judge President and the other judges of the High Court; and
(d) persons presiding over other courts subordinate to the Supreme Court and the High Court that are established by or under an Act of Parliament.

Section 79B  Independence of judiciary

In the exercise of his judicial authority, a member of the judiciary may not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority, except to the extent that a written law may place him under the direction or control of another member of the judiciary.

Section 80  Supreme Court

(1) There is a Supreme Court which is a superior court of record and the final court of appeal for Zimbabwe and is have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred upon it by or in terms of this Constitution or any Act of Parliament.

(2) The Supreme Court is consist of

(a) the Chief Justice
(b) the Deputy Chief Justice;
(c) such other judges of the Supreme Court, being not less than two, as the President may deem necessary; and
(d) such other judges as have been appointed under subsection (3).

(2a) The Deputy Chief Justice is act as Chief Justice whenever the office of Chief Justice is vacant or the Chief Justice is absent from Zimbabwe or is unable to perform the functions of his office by reason of illness or any other cause.

(3) If the services of an additional judge are required for a limited period, the Chief Justice may appoint a person who holds the office of judge of the High Court or who has held office as a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court to act as a judge of the Supreme Court for such period as may be specified by the Chief Justice.

(4) An Act of Parliament may provide for the conferring, by way of rules of court, upon a registrar of the Supreme Court, duly appointed thereto, of the jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court in civil cases in respect of
(a) the making of orders in uncontested cases, other than orders affecting status or the custody or guardianship of children;
(b) deciding preliminary or interlocutory matters, including applications for directions but not including matters affecting the liberty of the subject:

Provided that any such Act of Parliament is provide for the right of any person who is aggrieved by the order or decision of any such registrar to have the order or decision reviewed by a judge of the Supreme Court who may, on such review, amend, vary, set aside or confirm the order or decision concerned or give such other order or decision as he deems fit.

Section 81  High Court and criminal jurisdiction of other courts

(1) There is a High Court which is a superior court of record and is have such jurisdiction and powers as may be conferred upon it by or in terms of this Constitution or any Act of Parliament.

(2) The High Court is consist of

(a) the Chief Justice;
(b) the Judge President of the High Court who is, subject to the directions of the Chief Justice, be in charge of the High Court;
(c) such other judges of the High Court as may from time to time be appointed.

(3) The Chief Justice may, from time to time, after consultation with the Judge President of the High Court, appoint a judge of the Supreme Court to act as a judge of the High Court.

(4) No law, other than a disciplinary law, is confer jurisdiction in criminal matters upon a court or other adjudicating authority, other than the Supreme Court or the High Court, which did not have such jurisdiction before the appointed day:
Provided that the provisions of this subsection may not  apply to a law which confers any such jurisdiction on a court in terms of which the only penalty that may be imposed by the court is a monetary one.

(5) An Act of Parliament may provide for the conferring, by way of rules of court, upon a registrar of the High Court, duly appointed thereto, of the jurisdiction and powers of the High Court in civil cases in respect of

(a) the making of orders in uncontested cases, other than orders affecting status or the custody or guardianship of children;
(b) deciding preliminary or interlocutory matters, including applications for directions but not including matters affecting the liberty of the subject:

Provided that any such Act of Parliament is provide for the right of any person who is aggrieved by the order or decision of any such registrar to have the order or decision reviewed by a judge of the High Court who may, on such review, amend, vary, set aside or confirm the order or decision concerned or give such other order or decision as he deems fit.

Section 82  Qualifications of judges

(1) A person may not be qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court unless

(a) he is or has been a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil or criminal matters in a country in which the common law is Roman-Dutch or English, and English is an official language; or

(b) he is and has been for not less than seven years, whether continuously or not, qualified to practise as a legal practitioner

(i) in Zimbabwe:
(ii) in a country in which the common law is Roman-Dutch and English is an official language; or
(iii) if he is a citizen of Zimbabwe, in a country in which the common law is English and English is an official language.

(2) In computing, for the purposes of subsection (1)(b), the period during which any person has been qualified to practise as a legal practitioner

(a) any period during which he was qualified to practise as an advocate or attorney in Zimbabwe is included; and
(b) any period during which he has held judicial office, whether in or outside Zimbabwe, after having so qualified as a legal practitioner is included;

and the reference in subsection (1)(b) to a legal practitioner is include a reference to persons in other jurisdictions who have comparable functions or who have been admitted to practise the profession of law as advocates or attorneys by whatever name they may be called.

Section 83  Oath of office

The Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Judge President and other judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court, including an acting judge, is, before entering upon his office, take and subscribe before the President or some person authorized by the President in that behalf the oath of loyalty and the judicial oath in the forms set out in Schedule 1:

Provided that where a person is appointed in terms of section 80(3) or 81(3) to act as a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court, as the case may be, it may not be necessary for such person to take and subscribe the oaths referred to in this section in respect of such appointment.

Section 84  Appointment of judges

(1) The Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Judge President and other judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court is appointed by the President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.

(2) If the appointment of a Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, Judge President or a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court is not consistent with any recommendation made by the Judicial Service Commission in terms of subsection (1), the President causes the Senate to be informed as soon as is practicable.

(3) The appointment of a judge in terms of this section, whether made before, on or after the date of commencement of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 4) Act, 1984, may be made for a fixed period and any judge so appointed may, notwithstanding that the period of his appointment has expired, sit as a judge for the purpose of giving judgment or otherwise in relation to any proceedings commenced or heard by him while he was in office.

Section 85  Acting judges

(1) If the offices of the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice are vacant or the Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice are for any reason unable to perform the functions of their offices, the President may, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission, appoint some person holding the office of judge of the Supreme Court or Judge President of the High Court to act as Chief Justice.

(2) If the office of a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court other than the Chief Justice is vacant or such judge is appointed to act in some other judicial capacity or is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office, or if the services of an additional judge of the High Court are required for a limited period, the President may, as the case requires and after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, appoint some person qualified for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court to act in that office.

(3) A person appointed to act under subsection (2)

(a) is, subject to the provisions of section 87, continue to act for the period of his appointment or, if no such period is specified, until his appointment is revoked by the President, after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission; and

(b) may, notwithstanding that the period of his appointment has expired or that his appointment has been revoked, sit as a judge for the purpose of giving judgment or otherwise in relation to any proceedings commenced before or heard by him while he was so acting.

Section 86  Tenure of office of judges

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 87, a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court is retire when he attains the age of sixty-five years unless, before he attains that age, he has elected to retire on attaining the age of seventy years:
Provided that

(a) an election under this subsection is subject to the submission to, and acceptance by, the President, after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission, of a medical report as to the mental and physical fitness of the judge so to continue in office;

(b) the provisions of this subsection may not  apply to an acting judge or a judge who has been appointed for a fixed period of office;

(2) A judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court may at any time resign his office by notice in writing to the President.

(3) The office of a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court may not , without his consent, be abolished during his tenure of office.

(4) A judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court may, notwithstanding that he has attained the age at which he is required by subsection (1) to retire, sit as a judge for the purpose of giving judgment or otherwise in relation to any proceedings commenced before or heard by him while he was in office.

Section 87  Removal of judges from office

(1) A judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause, or for misbehaviour and may not be so removed except in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(2) If the President considers that the question of the removal from office of the Chief Justice ought to be investigated, the President is appoint a tribunal to inquire into the matter.

(3) If, in the case of a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice advises the President that the question of removal from office of the judge concerned ought to be investigated, the President is appoint a tribunal to inquire into the matter.

(4) A tribunal appointed under subsection (2) or (3) is consist of not less than three members selected by the President from the following

(a) persons who have held office as a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court;
(b) persons who hold or have held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil or criminal matters in a country in which the common law is Roman-Dutch or English, and English is an official language;
(c) legal practitioners of not less than seven years’ standing who have been nominated under subsection (5);
one of whom is designated by the President as chairman.

(4a) In computing, for the purposes of subsection (4)(c), the period during which a person has had standing as a legal practitioner, any period during which he has had standing as an advocate or attorney in Zimbabwe is included.
(5) It is the duty of the association which is constituted under an Act of Parliament and which represents legal practitioners practising in Zimbabwe to nominate a panel containing the names of not less than three duly qualified legal practitioners for the purposes of subsection (4)(c) when so required by the President.

(6) A tribunal appointed under subsection (2) or (3) is inquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the President and recommend to the President whether or not he should refer the question of the removal of the judge from office to the Judicial Service Commission, and the President is act in accordance with such recommendation.

(7) The provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Act [Chapter 80] as in force at the time or any other law substituted for the same is, mutatis mutandis, apply in relation to a tribunal appointed under subsection (2) or (3) as they apply to commissioners appointed under that Act.

(8) If the question of removing a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court from office has been referred to a tribunal under subsection (2) or (3), the judge is suspended from performing the functions of his office until the President, on the recommendation of the tribunal or the Judicial Service Commission, revokes the suspension or the judge is removed from office in accordance with subsection (9).

(9) If the question of the removal of a judge has been referred to the Judicial Service Commission in accordance with subsection (6) and the Commission advises that the judge be removed from office, the President is, by order under the public seal, remove the judge from office.

Section 88  Remuneration of judges

(1) There is charged upon and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to a person who holds the office of or is acting as Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, a judge of the Supreme Court, Judge President of the High Court or a judge of the High Court such salary and allowances as may from time to time be prescribed by or under an Act of Parliament.

(2) The salary and allowances payable to a person under subsection (1) may not be reduced during the period he holds the office concerned or acts as holder thereof.

Section 89  Law to be administered

Subject to the provisions of any law for the time being in force in Zimbabwe relating to the application of African customary law, the law to be administered by the Supreme Court, the High Court and by any courts in Zimbabwe subordinate to the High Court is the law in force in the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope on 10th June, 1891, as modified by subsequent legislation having in Zimbabwe the force of law.

Section 90  Judicial Service Commission

(1) There is a Judicial Service Commission which is consist of

(a) the Chief Justice or, if there is no Chief Justice or the Chief Justice is not available, the Deputy Chief Justice;
(b) the Chairman of the Public Service Commission;
(c) the Attorney-General;
(d) no less than two or more than three other members appointed, subject to the provisions of subsection (2), by the President.

(2) One of the members appointed under subsection (1)(d) is a person who

(a) is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court or the High Court; or
(b) is and has been for not less than five years, whether continuously or not, qualified to practise as a legal practitioner in Zimbabwe; or
(c) possesses such legal qualifications and has had such legal experience as the President considers suitable and adequate for his appointment to the Judicial Service Commission;
and the other members are chosen for their ability and experience in administration or their professional qualifications or their suitability otherwise for appointment.

(3) In computing, for the purpose of subsection (2)(b), the period during which any person has been qualified to practise as a legal practitioner, any period during which he was qualified to practise as an advocate or attorney in Zimbabwe is included.

Section 91  Functions of Judicial Service Commission

(1) The functions of the Judicial Service Commission is to tender such advice and do such things in relation to the judiciary as are provided for by this Constitution or by or under an Act of Parliament.

(2) An Act of Parliament referred to in subsection (1) may confer on the Judicial Service Commission functions in connection with the employment, discipline and conditions of service of such officers and persons employed in

(a) the Supreme Court, the High Court and other courts subordinate to the Supreme Court and the High Court; and
(b) the office of the Public Protector;

as are specified in such Act.

Section 92  Persons presiding over special courts

(1) The power to appoint persons to preside over a special court is vest in the President, after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission:

Provided that Parliament may provide that the Chief Justice may, after consulting the Judicial Service Commission, appoint a person holding the office of judge of the High Court to preside over a special court for such period as he may specify.

(2) During the term of office of a person appointed to preside over a special court his conditions of service may not be amended and his office may not be abolished without his consent.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2), an Act of Parliament may

(a) vest the functions of a special court in another special court if such Act provides that any person who has been appointed to preside over the first-mentioned court is deemed to have been appointed to preside over the second-mentioned court; and
(b) effect a change in the designation of the person referred to in paragraph (a).

(4) In this section, “special court” means
(a) the Administrative Court established by section 3 of the Administrative Court Act [Chapter 7:07];
(a1) the Fiscal Appeal Court established by section 3 of the Fiscal Appeal Court Act [Chapter 23:05];
(a2) the Special Court for Income Tax Appeals established by section 64 of the Income Tax Act [Chapter 23:06];
(a3) any court or other adjudicating authority established by law which exercises any function that was vested in a court referred to in paragraph (a), (a1) or (a2) on the date of commencement of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 15) Act, 1998;

(b) any court or other adjudicating authority established by law, other than

(i) a local court; or
(ii) a court established by or under a disciplinary law; or
(iii) a court established by or under an Act of Parliament for the adjudication of small civil claims;
if there is no right of appeal, directly or indirectly, from a decision of that court or adjudicating authority to the Supreme Court or the High Court;

(c) any court or other adjudicating authority established by law which is declared by that law to be a special court for the purposes of this section.


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