Meikles Limited executive chairman John Moxon has appealed to the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee decision absolving Supreme Court judge Justice Francis Bere of ethical misconduct.
A panel of four judges appointed by Chief Justice Luke Malaba cleared Justice Bere of ethical misconduct following allegations levelled against him by Moxon.
The judge was under investigation over allegations of conflict of interest in a ruling he made in a consultancy dispute between Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Meikles Limited and Widefree Investments involving more than $2 million.
In his letter of appeal to Chief Justice Malaba, who is also the Judicial Service Commission chairman, Moxon said the handling of Meikles’ complaint had restored their confidence in the judicial system in the country, which had allegedly been dented by their experience in Justice Bere’s court, but had issues pertaining to the findings of the committee.
The issues, he said, deserved the Chief Justice’s attention and perhaps guidance.
Firstly, Moxon raised the issue relating to the process and proceedings of the committee.
“We asked to provide evidence of our complaint in writing for consideration by the committee,” he said.
“We anticipated that a representative from Meikles Limited would be summoned to a hearing where evidence would be collected in detail.”
He pointed out that there was an imbalance that was created in the manner in which the hearings appeared to be designed, in that whereas Justice Bere was confronted with their evidence, they were not favoured with his responses.
It was Moxon’s view that had Meikles been made aware of Justice Bere’s responses to their complaints, they might have been in a position to provide further information to the committee that may have brought it to a different conclusion than it did.
“We therefore hereby lodge an appeal to the Judicial Service Commission to consider the decision arrived at by the committee in light of the issues we have raised above,” said Moxon.
“We seek guidance from you as to whether this request conforms to the laid down procedures in matters such as these and we will abide by the guidance you will provide us.”
In its findings, the four-member Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee chaired by Constitutional and Supreme Court judge Justice Rita Makarau, ruled that there was no evidence suggesting that Justice Bere was aware of the client-legal practitioner relationship between the respondent and Bere Brothers.
Widefree was linked to industrialist Mr Joseph Kanyekanye, a long standing client of Bere Brothers, a law firm founded by the judge.
Meikles, which entered into a consultancy agreement with Widefree Investments trading as Core Solutions in December 2013, lost the case both at the High Court and Supreme Court.
The obligation of the agreement was that Core Solutions would assist Meikles in recovering funds owed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. According to a letter dated January 23, 2019 and signed by Chief Justice Malaba, the committee recommended to the JSC boss that the conduct of Justice Bere in the case in question was not unethical.
Chief Justice Malaba said the committee, whose other members were Labour Court judge Justice Lawrence Murasi and Constitutional and Supreme Court judges Justices Tendai Uchena and Justice Lavender Makoni, also noted that Justice Bere severed ties with the law firm 17 years ago.