By Tatenda Chitagu
Chief Justice Luke Malaba has once again vouched for the independence of the judiciary, declaring himself a servant of the law.
Speaking at the inaugural Herbert Chitepo Memorial lecture at the Great Zimbabwe University’s Herbert Chitepo Law School on Friday, Malaba dismissed allegations of judicial capture which have been raised by the opposition as well as civic society groups, declaring he was bound by the constitution and was not above the law.
“My job is to interrogate facts and interpret the law. The law is the master; the chief justice is a servant of the law. That is the rule of law. It has to be the rule of law, not rule of man or woman,” he said.
Justice Malaba said judicial independence lay within the judiciary and not anywhere else.
“We will be useless if we are not independent. Independence is a responsibility which is a big responsibility to ensure that the law is the master. Courts exist to ensure that the law is the master. You must have courts that are independent from any influence. Judicial power only lies in one place — the judiciary, not anywhere else. If it lies anywhere else, then it’s no longer rule of law. Rule of law demands separation of powers,” he said.
Justice Malaba said he was aware of the burden of delivering the rule of law that lay on his shoulders.
“At the Constitutional Court, and other courts, we are conscious of the demands of the rule of law and we know it’s our duty imposed by the constitution to protect, promote and fulfil the fundamentals of human rights and freedom. This is the meaning of the rule of law,” he said.
“The law must be a measure and objective standard and we must find it. That is why we say there must be a judge. But who is a judge. Not every judge is a judge. You must sieve out the irrelevancies and remain with the core facts. Law is a discipline, a science and we don’t think at random
“We have demonstrated upholding the rule of law and there are a number of cases to prove that. The creation of the constitutional court is testament to that because it’s a special court that deals with constitutional matters only.”
Malaba urged lawyers to be professional and ethical, and not to be greedy, but put the interests of their clients first.