By Nkosana Dlamini
In September 2016, High Court Judge Priscilla Chigumba (pictured) came under fire from then President Robert Mugabe after she overturned a two week police ban imposed on opposition rallies and marches in Harare.
Police cited what they claimed had been a deteriorating security situation in a country that had been witnessing sporadic anti-government protests by citizen movements.
The opposition, under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera), successfully challenged the embargo in the courts with Chigumba issuing what was later described by neutrals as a brave decision.
Her ruling elicited strong rebuke from Mugabe who chided local judges for delivering “negligent and reckless” through decisions to sanction political demonstrations during a volatile period.
What followed were allegations made against her by a Mr Kanokangafor soliciting for a $20 000 bribe from him.
It was alleged that Justice Chigumba solicited for a $20 000 bribe from one of the parties in a case she was presiding over.
The alleged bribery indicated that the judge had sent an agent to solicit for a bribe from Kanokanga who was one of the parties in a case in which she was presiding over.
Fast forward to the post Mugabe era in 2018, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has vowed to deliver a clean election later this year, has appointed her into the hot seat.
Justice Chigumba replaces Supreme Court judge, Justice Rita Makarau, who tendered her resignation from the country’s electoral body in December last year.
In a letter dated January 31, 2018 addressed to Justice Chigumba, the chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, wrote:
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, having consulted with the Judicial Service Commission and the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders, has the pleasure to appoint you as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with immediate effect.
“You will be sworn-in as the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at State House tomorrow (today) at 10:00 hours.”