US embassy cable - 01HARARE766

REMAINING ZIMBABWE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES STAND FIRM FOR NOW

Identifier: 01HARARE766
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE766 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-02-16 11:37:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM KDEM PINS PINR ZI
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTO4844

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ACTION AF-00    

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  ACQ-00   CIAE-00  USNW-00  
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   
      FAAE-00  FBIE-00  VC-00    H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    
      L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  
      PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00    IRM-00   
      SSO-00   STR-00   TRSE-00  USIE-00  PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01   
      DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00   SWCI-00    /009W
                  ------------------C69783  161136Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8243
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000766 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL. 02/16/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, PINS, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  REMAINING ZIMBABWE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES STAND 
FIRM FOR NOW 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  00766  01 OF 02  161136Z 
REFS: A) HARARE 694, B) HARARE 644 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL IRVING.  REASONS: 1.5 
(B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (C) AFTER JUSTICE MINISTER PATRICK CHINAMASA STRONG- 
ARMED CHIEF JUSTICE ANTHONY GUBBAY INTO RESIGNING (REF B), 
THE REMAINING FOUR SUPREME COURT JUSTICES ARE STANDING FIRM 
FOR NOW.  JUSTICE NICHOLAS MCNALLY TOLD POLITICAL CHIEF ON 
FEBRUARY 13 THAT AFTER CHINAMASA PRESSURED HIM TO RESIGN ON 
FEBRUARY 9 (REF A), HE LATER CALLED CHINAMASA AND TOLD HIM 
THAT HE HAD DECIDED TO "DECLINE HIS KIND OFFER."  AT FIRST, 
MCNALLY WAS INCLINED TO GIVE IN, BUT THEN HE JUST COULD NOT 
BRING HIMSELF TO DO IT, HE TOLD US.  MCNALLY NOW PLANS TO 
STAY ON UNTIL THE END OF THE YEAR WHEN HE REACHES THE 
MANDATORY RETIREMENT AGE.  ACCORDING TO PROMINENT ATTORNEY 
BEATRICE MTETWA, MCNALLY WAS EMBOLDENED TO STAY ON AFTER 
RECEIVING A FLOOD OF SUPPORTIVE CALLS FROM AROUND THE 
WORLD, INCLUDING FROM THE VATICAN.  MCNALLY SENT A DEFIANT 
LETTER TO THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED "THE HERALD," WHICH WAS 
PUBLISHED IN THE FEBRUARY 15 EDITION, STATING THAT THE 
SUPREME COURT DOES NOT FAVOR ANY PARTICULAR GROUP AND GIVES 
ALL ZIMBABWEANS, INCLUDING LANDLESS PEASANTS, A FAIR 
HEARING. 
 
2.  (C) JUSTICE AHMED IBRAHIM, WHO WAS ALSO APPROACHED BY 
CHINAMASA FEBRUARY 9 AND ASKED TO RESIGN (REF A), IS 
WAVERING, BUT HAS NOT DECIDED WHETHER OR NOT HE WILL QUIT. 
IBRAHIM REPORTEDLY TOLD CHINAMASA THAT HE WOULD HAVE TO 
CONSULT WITH HIS FAMILY BEFORE HE MAKES A DECISION.  THE 
FEBRUARY 15-21 "FINANCIAL GAZETTE" REPORTED THAT IBRAHIM'S 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  00766  01 OF 02  161136Z 
FAMILY HAS URGED HIM TO STEP DOWN, BUT THAT HE IS UNDER 
PRESSURE FROM OTHER JUDGES TO STAY ON. 
 
3.  (C) IN A CONVERSATION WITH THE CHARGE FEBRUARY 15, 
JUSTICE WILSON SANDURA SAID THAT HE WOULD NOT RESIGN UNDER 
PRESSURE, EVEN THOUGH HE AND HIS BLACK COLLEAGUE, JUSTICE 
SIMBARASHE MUCHECHETERE, HAVE NOT YET BEEN APPROACHED BY 
CHINAMASA.  SANDURA SAID THAT BOTH MUCHECHETERE AND IBRAHIM 
WILL STAY.  SANDURA SUSPECTS THAT THE PRESSURE WILL COME, 
HOWEVER, BECAUSE HIGH COURT JUDGE PRESIDENT GODFREY 
CHIDYAUSIKU -- GUBBAY'S LIKELY REPLACEMENT AS CHIEF JUSTICE 
-- DOES NOT WANT TO TAKE OVER THE TOP SPOT ON THE BENCH IF 
THE OTHER JUSTICES REMAIN.  IN FACT, SANDURA TOLD THE 
CHARGE THAT CHIDYAUSIKU HAS IDENTIFIED AT LEAST FOUR 
CURRENTLY-SERVING HIGH COURT JUDGES HE WILL INSIST 
ACCOMPANY HIM TO THE SUPREME COURT, ESSENTIALLY PACKING THE 
COURT WITH JUDGES SYMPATHETIC TO THE RULING ZANU-PF. 
(COMMENT:  IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT ZIMBABWEAN LAW 
REQUIRES A MINIMUM OF FIVE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES BUT DOES 
NOT ESTABLISH A MAXIMUM NUMBER, MEANING THAT PRESIDENT 
MUGABE COULD APPOINT AS MANY JUSTICES AS HE CONSIDERS 
NECESSARY.  PACKING THE COURT IS THE EASIEST WAY FOR THE 
PRESIDENT TO DILUTE THE INFLUENCE OF THE SITTING JUSTICES. 
IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO REMOVE A MEMBER OF ZIMBABWE'S 
HIGHEST COURT, EVEN FOR CAUSE.  ZIMBABWE HAS NO JUDICIAL 
CODE OF CONDUCT TO SERVE AS A STANDARD AND THE PROCESS 
ITSELF IS STACKED AGAINST THE EXECUTIVE BY THE 
CONSTITUTION.  END COMMENT.) 
 
4.  (C) STERNFORD MOYO, PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF 
ZIMBABWE, TOLD US ON FEBRUARY 16 THAT HE HAS SPOKEN 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        HARARE  00766  01 OF 02  161136Z 
INDIVIDUALLY WITH EACH OF THE JUDGES, AND HAS URGED THEM TO 
STAND FIRM.  IN THE MEANTIME, HE HAS SUCCESSFULLY MARSHALED 
PUBLIC STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT FOR THE JUSTICES FROM THE LAW 
SOCIETIES OF ZAMBIA AND SOUTH AFRICA.  MOYO NOTED THAT THE 
INTERNATIONAL BAR ASSOCIATION INTENDED, WITHIN A WEEK, TO 
SEND A DELEGATION TO ZIMBABWE TO PRESS THE GOVERNMENT TO 
STAND DOWN FROM ITS ATTACKS AGAINST THE JUDICIARY.  MOYO 
WAS CONFIDENT THAT JUSTICES SANDURA AND MUCHECHETERE WOULD 
REFUSE TO RESIGN, BUT THOUGHT THAT IBRAHIM COULD GO EITHER 
WAY. 
 
5.  (C) COMMENT: ZIMBABWE'S SUPREME COURT JUSTICES ARE AT A 
CRITICAL CROSSROADS.  THREE OF THE FIVE -- SANDURA, 
MUCHECHETERE, AND IBRAHIM -- ARE SEVERAL YEARS FROM 
RETIREMENT AGE, AND THAT CAN SEEM LIKE A LONG TIME UNDER 
THE CURRENT TENSE CIRCUMSTANCES.  PRIVATE, INTERNATIONAL 
CALLS OF SUPPORT, AS WELL AS THE SYMPATHETIC PUBLIC 
STATEMENTS FROM THEIR LEGAL COLLEAGUES IN THE REGION -- 
HAVE UNDOUBTEDLY BOLSTERED THE RESOLVE OF THE REMAINING 
JUSTICES.  THE LEGAL COMMUNITY HAS URGED THE JUSTICES TO 
HANG ON LONG ENOUGH TO ALLOW TIME FOR THE SHOCK OF 
CHINAMASA'S DEMANDS TO WEAR OFF, AND TO ALLOW SUPPORT FROM 
DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL GROUPS TO COALESCE.  THAT 
STRATEGY SEEMS TO BE WORKING FOR NOW.  HOWEVER, IF THE 
INCUMBENT JUSTICES DO DECIDE TO STAY PUT, WE SUSPECT THAT 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ3111 
 
PAGE 01        HARARE  00766  02 OF 02  161136Z 
ACTION AF-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   AMAD-00  ACQ-00   CIAE-00  DINT-00 
      DODE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   FAAE-00 
      FBIE-00  VC-00    H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    L-00 
      VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00 
      PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SP-00    SSO-00   STR-00 
      TRSE-00  USIE-00  PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-01   DRL-02   G-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /009W 
                  ------------------C69785  161136Z /38 
O 161137Z FEB 01 
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8244 
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY 
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 HARARE 000766 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
LONDON FOR GURNEY 
PARIS FOR WILLIAMS 
NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL. 02/16/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, PINS, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT:  REMAINING ZIMBABWE SUPREME COURT JUSTICES STAND 
FIRM FOR NOW 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  00766  02 OF 02  161136Z 
PRESIDENT MUGABE WILL MOVE TO APPOINT ADDITIONAL, PRO-ZANU- 
PF JURISTS.  END COMMENT. 
 
IRVING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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