The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has announced Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza as Acting Chief Justice of Zimbabwe after the High Court Saturday ruled that Luke Malaba’s term as the country top judge ended this Saturday morning.
Her appointment is with immediate effect.
The High Court on Saturday nullified the extension of Malaba’s term by President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was using the leeway afforded to him by Constitutional Amendment No.2 to extend the top jurist’s term of office by another five years..
The JSC says the appointment has been made pending appeal against the High Court ruling.
Justice Gwaunza was appointed Deputy Chief Justice in March 2018.
Born in 1953, Gwaunza was admitted as a legal practitioner of the High Court of Zimbabwe in 1987.
She co-founded and was the national coordinator of the Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Project between 1989 and 1995.
She was the first director, Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Community Development and Women’s Affairs and also worked as a director of Legal Aid in the Ministry of Justice.
Gwaunza served on the boards of many women’s non-governmental organizations, including Musasa Project and the Women’s Leadership and Governance Institute.
She chaired the Wills and Inheritance Project — a joint venture of DFID and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
She was founding member and past president of the Zimbabwe Association of Women Judges and member of the International Association of Women Judges.
Justice Gwaunza was appointed as a Judge of the High Court in August 1998.
She was later elevated to the Supreme Court in November 2002, becoming the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court bench after Justice Vernanda Ziyambi.