Chief Justice of Namibia


Chief Justice of Namibia
Namibia

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The Chief Justice of Namibia (sometimes also: Judge President) is the head of the Supreme Court of Namibia, the highest appellate court in Namibia. It is the highest post in the Namibia's judicial system, presiding over the operation of the supreme court. The position was created on 21 March 1989, the day of Namibian independence, along with the foundation of the Supreme Court.[1]

The Chief Justice is responsible for the swearing-in of members of the National Assembly[2] as well as the president of Namibia, and further for the safekeeping of the presidential symbols of the power (constitution, seal of state, and national flag) during the handover from one president to another.[3] They can further request the Namibian president to appoint Acting Judges, either to fill temporary vacancies, or to supplement the jury ad hoc with experts on certain legal issues.[4]

The Chief Justice and all other judges are appointed by the president on recommendation by the Judicial Service Commission in which the Chief Justice is a member. Other members of this commission are the Attorney-General, a judge appointed by the president, and two representatives of the legal fraternity.[4]

Appointment controversy

While Namibia's constitution enshrines the independence of the judiciary,[4] appointment of judges lies in the power of the president. In 2002, the official retirement age for judges in Namibia was amended from 70 to 65. At reaching retirement age, judges including the Chief Justice can only be reappointed in acting position. This change cut short the term of Namibia's third Chief Justice Johan Strydom who became 65 in June 2003, a move that was speculated to be part of a plan to appoint a Chief Justice with close ties to SWAPO, the ruling party.[5]

List of Chief Justices

As a legacy from Commonwealth, Justices in Namibia bear the title Lord. The present Chief Justice is His Lordship Peter Shivute.[1]

Chief Justice Start of Term End of Term
Hans Joachim Berker 21 March 1990 5 July 1992
Ismael Mahomed July 1992 1999
Johan Strydom March 1999 June 2003
Johan Strydom (acting) June 2003 September 2004
Simpson Mtambanengwe (acting) October 2004 November 2004
Peter Shivute 1 December 2004 Incumbent

References


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