The Zimbabwe Law Society has accused the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission of intimidating judges who are accused of corruption although no names of those involved have been revealed.
In statement issued Tuesday, LSZ said the allegations raised by ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda Moyo that some judges were involved in corruption and would soon be arrested were meant to intimidate the judiciary.
“In its issue of the 29th December 2019, the Sunday Mail reported on the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ZACC) fresh drive against corruption. It was reported that over 600 dockets are pending against high profile individuals including Ministers, Judges, Members of Parliament and Executive Directors and Managers of Companies.
“The LSZ reiterates its zero tolerance for corruption and will continue to support all players and stakeholders in the fight against corruption. As it does so, the LSZ wishes to express its grave concern at the generalised nature of the Statement by ZACC, particularly as made against the unnamed and unspecified Judges,” read the statement.
Since taking over as ZACC boss, Matanda-Moyo has been making threats against people with less action.
The law society said ZACC should name the concerned judges and stop generalisation of allegations as this taunts the entire judiciary.
“It is our firmly held belief, consistent with international law and international best practices, that the independence of a judge and of the judiciary is not negotiable in any self-respecting democracy.
“The LSZ contends that the statement by ZACC amounts to a generalised threat against all judges, individually and as an institution. The statement fails to name the judges concerned, and thus paints all judges with the same brush,” the society said.
So far, only ex-tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira is among a few high profile politicians arrested for corruption-related cases by the Matanda-Moyo-led anti-corruption body.
“The statement has the effect of cowering members of the judiciary into speculative fear as they go about their duties. It creates a general impression that judges are corrupt.
“Thus not only does the statement have the potential of interfering with judicial independence, but it also has the potential to undermine the judiciary in the eyes of the public,” the society charged.
It reiterated its belief that no one was or should be above the law.
“That said, we exhort ZACC to use its powers to simply act, where a judicial officer is found wanting, as opposed to issuing media threats against a collective of professionals without specifics.
“Equally so the investigations should not appear to be used as a weapon against a specific class of citizens to the exclusion of others.
“We reiterate our position that the independence of a judge and of the judiciary must be defended by all. Fear must be the last thing to be found in the corridors of those who sit in judgement over our affairs as citizens.”
The LSZ further encouraged ZACC to reflect on its approach which may erode the guarded independence of the judiciary.