Zimbabwe

Zim's top court clarifies bequeathed property dispute

After a decade of legal uncertainty, the supreme court of Zimbabwe has clarified a contentious problem relating to whether spouses are legally obliged to bequeath their property to each other. The courts have been divided over the issue for some time. Some have taken the view, now upheld by the supreme court, that a spouse, not married in community of property, has testamentary freedom. Others said that a will effectively disinheriting the other spouse was unlawful. Moreover, it had a disproportionate effect on women and would thus be unconstitutional.

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For the last 10 years, judges of Zimbabwe’s high court have been surprisingly divided about what you might think is a fairly straightforward question: does a spouse married out of community of property have the right, in making a will, to leave his or her property to someone who is not the other spouse?

Religious freedom the winner in Zim school flag salute dispute

Attempts to establish a compulsory daily ceremony for schoolchildren to salute the national flag have come unstuck in Zimbabwe. The education authorities intended the ceremony to ‘inculcate patriotism’ and other values, according to the justification their lawyers argued before the constitutional court. But not everyone was impresssed.

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When Zimbabwe’s schoolchildren get back to their books this year, Covid permitting, they will not have to recite a government-approved pledge, intended to inculcate patriotic feelings in the young.

Judge claims CJ instructs how cases must be decided

The crisis in Zimbabwe heightened this week, with a spotlight now pointed at internal problems within the judiciary. First, a judge who was suspended on contested grounds has launched an urgent application to prevent a disciplinary tribunal from being set up to investigate her. In the course of her founding affidavit she made some grave allegations against the Chief Justice, for example, saying that he routinely intervened to ensure judges decided matters in a certain way.

Seldom has the judiciary of any country in this region been in the kind of mess now seen in Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa had no sooner announced that he had removed Judge Francis Bere from his position on the bench for unethical conduct, than a second bombshell exploded.

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