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Title: Challenges to Judicial Independence and International Law: A Case Study of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa

Caroline Du Plessis



Introduction: The recent case involving Mupasiri’s application in Zimbabwe and its subsequent impact in Zambia and South Africa has brought to light significant concerns regarding judicial independence and adherence to international law. This article aims to analyze the matter, emphasizing the adverse effects on public policy and constitutional principles. It also underscores the need for safeguarding the judiciary’s autonomy in promoting justice and maintaining the rule of law.

Zimbabwe’s Offending Law and its Repetition in Zambia and South Africa: The case revolves around the allegations made by Mr. Edwin Manikai, advisor and attorney to Mupasiri, against President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe. Manikai claimed that the President was involved in ulterior political motives surrounding the introduction of a decree and the issuance of an order related to SMM Holdings Private Limited (SMM) and its affiliated companies. These actions were seen as an affront to Zimbabwean public policy and international law. Unfortunately, similar precedents were established in Zambia and South Africa, exacerbating the issue.

South Africa: Violation of Constitutional Principles: In South Africa, the rights acquired through this unprecedented law were asserted in judicial proceedings. However, these actions contradicted Section 2 of the South African constitution, which states that any law or conduct inconsistent with the constitution is void ab initio. This disregard for constitutional principles poses a grave threat to the integrity of the judiciary and undermines public confidence in the legal system.

Zambia: Questionable Judgment and Coercion: In Zambia, a judgment was sought through the agency of Mr. Michael Mundashi, Senior Counsel, and partner at Mulenga Mundashi Legal Partners (MMLP). The Presiding Judge, Kajimanga J, issued an order in favor of the two Plaintiffs, Mr. Afaras Mtausi Gwaradzimba, who was appointed outside the provisions of the Zimbabwean Companies Act to administer SMM’s affairs. Gwaradzimba was given control and management rights over the company, which had been placed under the Minister of Justice’s control through the Reconstruction Act, not the Companies Act. This judgment relied on a law offensive to Zambian public policy and international law.

Furthermore, during the appeal process, TAP Building Products Limited (TAP), a company controlled by Mutumwa Mawere, was coerced by Gwaradzimba to pay legal costs related to the suit, even though the Supreme Court had determined the asserted right to be null and void. This coercive action raises serious concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the judicial process.

Preserving Judicial Independence and Upholding International Law: The case study presented here demonstrates the dire need for preserving judicial independence and upholding international law. When political motives and ulterior interests infiltrate legal proceedings, the very foundations of justice are jeopardized. Judicial systems must be insulated from external pressures, ensuring that decisions are based solely on the merits of the case and adherence to legal principles.

Conclusion: The Mupasiri case and its subsequent impact in Zambia and South Africa serve as alarming reminders of the challenges faced by the judiciary in upholding its independence and adhering to international legal standards. Safeguarding judicial autonomy, promoting accountability, and reinforcing constitutional principles are crucial for preserving the rule of law. Efforts should be made to rectify the existing flaws and create an environment where justice prevails over political interference, ensuring a fair and just legal system for all.

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