US embassy cable - 01HARARE861

SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE FIGHTS BACK

Identifier: 01HARARE861
Wikileaks: View 01HARARE861 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Harare
Created: 2001-02-28 09:15:00
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.

280915Z Feb 01


                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTO0290

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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   SWCI-00    /009W
                  ------------------CB660C  280917Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HARARE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8304
INFO NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 
C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000861 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JENDAYI FRAZER 
 
LONDON FOR CHARLES GURNEY 
 
PARIS FOR BISA WILLIAMS 
 
NAIROBI FOR TERRY PFLAUMER 
 
PASS USAID FOR AFR/SA - C. PALMA 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        HARARE  00861  280917Z 
PASS USTR FOR ROSA WHITAKER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/11 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, PINS, PINR, ZI 
SUBJECT: SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE FIGHTS BACK 
 
REF: (A)HARARE 766, (B)HARARE 694, (C) HARARE 644 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES EARL M. IRVING FOR 
REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (SBU) IN A DRAMATIC, ELEVENTH HOUR TWIST TO THE SAGA 
OF THE ZIMBABWEAN JUDICIARY, CHIEF JUSTICE ANTHONY 
GUBBAY MADE PUBLIC HIS INTENTION TO STAY ON THE JOB.  IT 
WAS EARLIER UNDERSTOOD THAT THE CHIEF JUSTICE WOULD WRAP 
UP HIS AFFAIRS AT THE BENCH ON FEBRUARY 28, AT WHICH 
TIME HE WOULD TAKE FOUR MONTHS' LEAVE AND OFFICIALLY 
RETIRE AT THE END OF JUNE.  ON FEBRUARY 27 RUMBLINGS 
THAT THE CHIEF JUSTICE MIGHT NOT GO QUIETLY PROMPTED 
MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL, AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS 
PATRICK CHINAMASA TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WOULD 
GIVE THE CHIEF JUSTICE FOUR MONTHS' PAY, MAKING HIS 
RETIREMENT EFFECTIVE AT MIDNIGHT ON FEBRUARY 28 AND 
ORDERED HIM TO VACATE HIS OFFICIAL RESIDENCE BY MARCH 9. 
CHINAMASA ESSENTIALLY TRICKED GUBBAY INTO "RESIGNING" 
AHEAD OF HIS MANDATORY RETIREMENT DATE IN APRIL 2002 
(REF C).  THE CHIEF JUSTICE NEVER PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGED 
HIS AGREEMENT TO DO SO. 
 
2.  (C) SPEAKING TO CHARGE ON FEBRUARY 28, THE CHIEF 
JUSTICE SOUNDED TIRED AND DEPRESSED.  HE HAD PRACTICAL 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        HARARE  00861  280917Z 
MATTERS TO ATTEND TO, SINCE SHORTLY HE WILL LOSE HIS 
OFFICIAL RESIDENCE, OFFICIAL VEHICLE AND A SUBSTANTIAL 
PORTION OF HIS INCOME.  HE REPORTED THAT HE WAS 
CONSULTING A TEAM OF LAWYERS WITH RESPECT TO THE CASE HE 
WOULD MOUNT TO CHALLENGE THE GOVERNMENT'S 
UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTION IN REMOVING HIM FROM OFFICE.  HE 
THOUGHT THE PRESIDENT WOULD SWEAR IN A SUBSTANTIVE CHIEF 
JUSTICE ON MARCH 1.  WHILE HE THOUGHT HE HAD A GOOD CASE 
AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT, GUBBAY WAS, NEVERTHELESS, 
REALISTIC: "THEY'LL NEVER REINSTATE ME AS CHIEF JUSTICE 
OR CANCEL THE APPOINTMENT OF THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE." 
 
3.  (C) COMMENT: IN AN EARLIER CONVERSATION WITH CHARGE, 
GUBBAY MADE CLEAR HIS VIEW THAT THE GOVERNMENT COULD NOT 
APPOINT AN ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE TO REPLACE HIM WHILE HE 
WAS ON LEAVE, AND THAT IS THE CRUX OF HIS ARGUMENT IN 
FIGHTING BACK.  GUBBAY NOW APPEARS DETERMINED TO STAY 
UNTIL APRIL 2002, WHETHER OR NOT, IN DOING SO, HE 
PROVOKES A CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS.  FOR ITS PART, THE 
GOVERNMENT SEEMS DETERMINED TO IGNORE THE CONSTITUTIONAL 
REQUIREMENTS FOR REMOVING A CHIEF JUSTICE AND PLANS TO 
SEND GUBBAY PACKING ON MARCH 1, AN ACTION WHICH HAS NO 
BASIS IN LAW.  A NUMBER OF INTERLOCUTORS HAVE TOLD US 
RECENTLY THAT THE GOVERNMENT'S INTENTION IS TO REPLACE 
GUBBAY WITH PRO-ZANU-PF JUDGE PRESIDENT OF THE HIGH 
COURT GODFREY CHIDYAUSIKU.  CHIDYAUSIKU WILL THEN 
RECOMMEND, AS THE CONSTITUTION REQUIRES, THAT A TRIBUNAL 
BE FORMED TO INVESTIGATE THE "MISCONDUCT" OF THE 
REMAINING FOUR SUPREME COURT JUSTICES.  THE GOVERNMENT'S 
ULTIMATE OBJECTIVE IS OSTENSIBLY THE REPLACEMENT OF 
GUBBAY'S FOUR COLLEAGUES WITH JURISTS WILLING TO LOOK 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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THE OTHER WAY AS PRESIDENT MUGABE AND HIS CRONIES RUN 
ROUGHSHOD OVER THE SPIRIT IF NOT THE LETTER OF THE LAW. 
END COMMENT. 
 
IRVING 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
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