Church officials in Zimbabwe have declared that pressure by the government and the ruling Zanu PF party on the judiciary, which has resulted in the early retirement of Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, is unacceptable.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), a leading Catholic agency here, has stated that the government should not interfere with the independence of the judiciary. Tarcicius Zimbiti, CCJP director, said: "We have noted with dismay that pressure is put on Supreme Court judges to resign from their positions for racist reasons. This is unacceptable."

The Baptist Union of Zimbabwe has also issued a plea to the government, declaring: "Knowing that we are all accountable to God, who sovereignly put them into power (Roman 13:1-2), the Baptist Union of Zimbabwe calls upon the government to refrain from and oppose all political intimidations, to re-establish the rule of law, uphold the independence of the judiciary, its integrity and impartiality … "

The government of Robert Mugabe accuses many of the nation's judges of holding a "Rhodesia mentality"—a reference to the system of white rule that ended in 1980. "We must begin to exorcise from all our institutions the racist ghost of [former premier] Ian Smith and we do so by phasing out his disciples and sympathizers," said Zimbabwe's justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa.

But many within Zimbabwe and abroad have strongly disagreed, and have issued statements vigorously defending the judiciary. On January 25, the U.N. Special Reporter on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato Param Cumaraswamy issued, a public statement drawing the Mugabe government's attention to Principle 2 of the U.N. Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary which obliges the ...

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