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Zimbabwe high court forces out chief justice

Zimbabwe’s high court has ruled that the president’s extension of the chief justice’s term of office by five years is illegal.

A group of lawyers had challenged the move which followed a recent constitutional amendment passed by parliament that raised the retirement age of senior judges from 70 to 75.

The judges ruled that Luke Malaba, who turned 70 on Saturday, had ceased to be chief justice as any constitutional amendment needed to be put to a referendum.

Justice Malaba faced some criticism in 2018 for dismissing an opposition petition which had sought to annul the election of President Emmerson Mnangagwa – alleging the vote had been marred by “mammoth theft and fraud”.

It was Zimbabwe’s first election following the ousting the year before of long-time leader Robert Mugabe.

The recent constitutional amendments also allow Mr Mnangagwa to appoint senior judges without being vetted by parliament and remove the requirement for a running mate in presidential elections.

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