HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has extended the term of Chief Justice Luke Malaba by 5 years, ENN reports. The development has put Luke Malaba in the spotlight as his contract extension faces multiple legal challenges.

“I am pleased to advise you that after consultation with the judicial service commission as required by law, His Excellency, the president has, in terms of section 186 (1) of the Constitution, accepted your election to continue in the office of Chief Justice beyond the age of seventy (70) for an additional period o five (5) years from 16 May 2021”, a letter from the chief secretary to the president and cabinet said.

Malaba was due to retire on 15 May 2021 after reaching the retirement age of Zimbabwe’s 2013 national constitution. However, last-minute amendments to the constitution have gifted Malaba, a Mnangagwa loyalist, with a new 5-year term.

The constitutional amendment that led to the legality of Malaba’s contract extension is being legally challenged in a development that risks further tarnishing the reputation of Zimbabwe’s judiciary. Malaba presided over the court challenge to the disputed 2018 general elections, which were marred by numerical irregularities and political violence. After a legal battle with Nelson Chamisa, who is the leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition MDC Alliance, Mnangagwa was declared the winner by Malaba. With the extension of Malaba’s employment contract, it remains to be seen how Zimbabwe’s judiciary will uphold its independence and transparency as lawyers challenge the legitimacy of sitting chief justice – Luke Malaba.