Zimbabwe’s Legal System is ‘Xenophobic’: SA Lawyers

The MDC Alliance’s South African legal team have described Zimbabwe’s legal system as almost ‘xenophobic’ saying the legal embargo the minister of Justice Ziyambi Ziyambi triggered was against the letter and spirit of regional integration as well the tenets of pan-Africanism.

Speaking to South Africa’s eNCA news media today, Advocate Dali Mpofu and Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who formed part of Chamisa’s legal team in a case which the plantiff challenged the presidential poll results said they are taking the matter to the South African government and SADC for a unfair treatment.

“We have made an appeal to our law bodies in South Africa to take this matter up; we are going to make an appeal to the South African government to take it up, SADC. The buzz word in SADC meetings is’ regional integration’, regional integration, how can you have regional integration if you are going to disallow people from practicing, how can you have regional integration if you are going to talk  about permits, when  Zimbabweans are here?

“Now you want to introduce almost a xenophobic legal practitioners appearance regime, we can’t do that we are one,” said Mpofu.

Mpofu said the judiciary denied Chamisa’s right to a fair and personal legal representation choice.

“He was denied a fundamental right of human beings to be represented in court by council of their choice.”

Mpofu further said he did not see logic in government denying them a green light saying a good number of Zimbabwean lawyers received training in South Africa and some are operating in South Africa.

Mpofu lashed at the irony of the new dispensation saying it signifies the former President Robert Mugabe who ruled with a heavy fist for a record of 37 years.

“The so called the new dawn they say they have there looks like it’s also a fake new dawn,” he said. “I spoke to minister Chinamasa outside the court he was boasting that he is the one who put in this law to restrict our appearance.”

Mpofu’ colleague, Ngcukaitobi, also added that government’s change of goal posts on what they required to in order to participate in court reflected that they were played a political game.

“The reasons kept shifting. Original we were told that we need permission of the law society of Zimbabwe we ultimately got the permission from the law society of Zimbabwe, we were then told that  we had to submit some certificates, degree certificates and other documentation from local universities and local bars, we then complied with that.

“The ultimate reason which was communicated to us literal with an hour before the start of the court, was that South Africa is not a reciprocate country with Zimbabwe,” he said.

“The minister completely conflates the requirements in section 7. Under section 7 of the legal practitioners act of Zimbabwe if you are a reciprocating country you have automatic rights of appearance in the Zimbabwean courts.”

In response, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi denied that the government refused to issue permits saying there was no proof and they can take the matter wherever they want.

“I don’t know who denied them, I don’t even know that. There was no letter which was written, can they show the proof,” he said.

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