The appointment of a Zimbabwean to the Supreme Court of Namibia has not been received well in the corridors of the justice system, with some legal practitioners questioning the logic behind such an appointment 33 years after Independence.

They say these kinds of appointments are a display of laziness and lack of commitment to the growth of the judiciary by those in charge.

The appointment of Lady Justice Rita Makarau has been also criticised by some political organisations and political commentators who view the appointment as a manner of strengthening the ruling party’s influence over the judiciary ahead of the general and presidential elections due in 2024.

However in a statement issued today the Office of the Judiciary says that while Lady Justice Makarau is a Judge of the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe, she “brings with her a wealth of judicial experience in the position, having practised as both a prosecutor and legal practitioner.

“She has extensive judicial experience which spans over 22 years and includes previous appointments as a judge and the Judge President of the High Court of Zimbabwe and a Judge of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.”

The statement issued by the secretary of the Judicial Service Commission Dr Sakeus Akweenda further states that Makarau will be a mentor to Lady Justices Hannelie Prinsloo and Esi Schimming-Chase who were also appointed to serve as acting judges of the Supreme Court from 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2024.

However one legal practitioner summed up the source of their discontent in the suggestion by the Judiciary that despite the 33 years of Namibia’s Independence no female in Namibia has 22 years of experience in law.

The appointment of Lady Justice Makarau is therefore seen as a way of sidelining local women legal practitioners.

The question is also raised as to if two females will soon be appointed to the High Court to fill the void created by the appointment of Lady Justice Prinsloo and Lady Justice Schimming-Chase to the Supreme Court.

“Where are we leaving tribal and regional diversity?” the discontented legal practitioner queried. “All Namibians are not equally represented on the bench [of the Supreme Court]. You want to say that Damaseb [Deputy Chief Justice Petrus] is the only qualified Damara lawyer?”

The Judicial Service Commission is also criticised for neglecting its duty of training future Namibian judges since the current judges are aging.

In the photo: Lady Justice Rita Makarau of the Supreme Court of Namibia.