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Zimbabwe Court denounces political interference in the Kunonga affair: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 14, 2011 p 7. October 16, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
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Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Chief Justice of Zimbabwe has lashed out against the Anglican Diocese of Harare, accusing it of trying to circumvent the courts by appealing to political leaders to resolve its dispute with breakaway bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga.

On 1 October the state-run Harare Herald reported that Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku had “blasted” the Anglican diocese for interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

The Herald reported the former Bishop of Harare, the Rt Rev Peter Hatendi, wrote to the Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, on 23 September urging the government to remove Judge Chidyausiku from the case.

“The Church of the Province of Central Africa has made a Constitutional appeal against the judgment of Chief Justice Chidyausiku dated 4 August, 2011 in chambers and requested him to recuse himself.”

Bishop Hatendi’s letter, the Herald said, asked the justice minister to “assist in the processing of the appeal.”

“My successor Dr Nolbert Kunonga grabbed both the old and the new structures when he resigned in 2007,” Bishop Hatendi wrote. “Where is commutative justice to be found save in our courts of law? I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible, please,” he was alleged to have written.

On 28 September, Judge Chidyausiku instructed the registrar of the Supreme Court to inform the attorneys for the parties of his displeasure with Bishop Hatendi. “In view of the persistent attempts by the litigants in this matter, in particular the [Church of the Province of Central Africa], to try and influence the outcome of this matter outside the judicial process, no further applications will be entertained from either party except in open court.”

“The issues set out above can only be determined by the Supreme Court. I accordingly take great exception to conduct undermining the independence of the judicial process by seeking political intervention in judicial matters,” the letter said.

CEN was unable to reach Bishop Hatendi to confirm whether the allegations made by the Herald were true. However, Judge Chidyausika has asked that all of the Anglican cases before the court be consolidated for his adjudication.

“The issues set out above can only be determined by the Supreme Court. I accordingly take great exception to conduct undermining the independence of the judicial process by seeking political intervention in judicial matters,” the letter said.