THE second most senior judicial officer in Zimbabwe, Justice Elizabeth Chiedza Gwaunza, has been appointed the country’s Deputy Chief Justice.
Justice Gwaunza yesterday took oath of the higher office before President Mnangagwa at a colourful ceremony held at State House in Harare.
She became the first woman to hold such an office in the history of Zimbabwe, and will deputise Chief Justice, Luke Malaba.
Prior to her latest appointment, Justice Gwaunza was a judge of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court.
In an interview, Justice Gwaunza said she felt honoured to be appointed Deputy Chief Justice.
“I am overwhelmed, excited and very happy,” she said. “I feel honoured and humbled to be appointed Deputy Chief Justice of Zimbabwe. It shows that so much trust has been bestowed on me. I undertake to execute my duties diligently and I will not disappoint.”
Justice Gwaunza said her vision was to ensure efficiency in the justice delivery system.
“I intend to carry forward effective justice delivery,” she said. “Effective justice delivery does not envisage delays and ignorance of the law. That is my vision.”
Justice Gwaunza said she will also fight corruption.
“Corruption has to be stamped out,” she said. “There is a national movement against corruption and as the judiciary we must play our part.”
The two Vice Presidents, Cdes Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga, graced the occasion and they joined President Mnangagwa in congratulating Deputy Chief Justice Gwaunza.
Justice Gwaunza attended St David’s Bonda High School and St Faith Mission in Manicaland before studying law at the University of Zimbabwe.
She also holds a diploma in legal drafting from the same university.
Her appointment was made in terms of the constitution following the gazetting of Constitutional Amendment (Number One) in September last year, which gives the President powers to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and the Judge President after consultation with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
Justice Gwaunza joined Government in 1977 as an Examiner of Deeds at the Deeds Office before joining the Home Affairs ministry in 1981 as a senior administrative officer (legislation). She worked for the Ministry of Community Development and Women’s Affairs as assistant secretary (legal affairs) between 1981 and March 1984.
Justice Gwaunza worked as a legal officer in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary from March 1984 to December 1989.
She was registered as a legal practitioner in 1987.
Justice Gwaunza was appointed judge of the High Court in August 1998 and in November 2002 she was promoted to the Supreme Court.
She was the second woman to sit on the Supreme Court bench after Retired Justice Vernanda Ziyambi.
Justice Gwaunza is filling the post left vacant by Chief Justice Malaba after his elevation last year.
She was the founding member and past president of the Zimbabwe Association of Women Judges and member of the International Association of Women Judges.
She also chaired the Wills and Inheritance Project – a joint venture of Britain’s Department for International Development and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.