President Mnangagwa has appointed retired judge Justice November Mtshiya to chair the tribunal to investigate the suitability of suspended High Court Justice Thompson Mabhikwa to hold a judicial office and extended the life span of the tribunal by another six months.
Justice Mtshiya takes over after Justice Mafios Cheda who had initially been tasked to head the probe recused himself from the inquiry on the grounds that the lady at the centre of the probe is related to him.
The tribunal to investigate Justice Mabhikwa was established in June after pressure had been mounting on the Bulawayo-based judge to step down to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the bench following reports he was allegedly involved in an intimate affair with a staff at the High Court. Justice Mabhikwa is widowed after his wife died in December 2020.
In a Statutory Instrument 233 of 21 published this week, President Mnangagwa rang changes to the composition of the three-member panel to the tribunal and brought in Justice Mutshiya.
The three-member panel also include Chaka Mashoko, a lecturer of procedural law and Advocate Phillipa Phillips, a Harare practising lawyer who were also appointed in accordance with Section 187(3) of the Constitution.
At the time of the appointment of the tribunal members in June, President Mnangagwa said the panel should investigate whether Justice Mabhikwa’s conduct “can be deemed to have been tantamount to gross misconduct.”
He also proclaimed that the tribunal should “investigate whether or not the Honourable Justice Mabhikwa (a) committed acts of sexual harassment (b) possessed pornographic material and to investigate any other matter which the tribunal may deem appropriate and relevant to the question of removal from office of a judge in terms of the law” and report the findings of its inquiry within three months with a recommendation “on whether the Honourable Judge is fit to hold office.”