National Hero Cde Godfrey Chidyausiku was a distinguished lawyer, legislator and politician who gave legal standing to the Fast-Track Land Reform Programme, President Mugabe has said.
The President was speaking at the jurist’s burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday. Cde Chidyausiku succumbed to liver and kidney complications at Morningside Clinic in South Africa on May 3, just months after he retired as Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice.
“As Chief Justice, the late Godfrey Chidyausiku will be remembered for the most important role he played in defending and shaping the course of our Land Reform Programme,” President Mugabe said.
“When we embarked on the Third Chimurenga programme, kwakaitwa jambanja rakakomba, munozviziva. The white farmers did everything possible to derail it and ended up enlisting the support of the white bench which was led by the likes of ana Justice (Anthony) Gubbay.
“So we needed vakaita saana Chidyausiku to fight for us and resist vaGubbay as best he could. Undeterred, the late justice came up with decisions which made our land reform possible. He (used) his sharp legal mind to overturn the Justice Gubbay judgments. The Third Chimurenga was, thus, resoundingly won, thanks to the efforts of the likes of Chief Justice Chidyausiku.”
President Mugabe said Chief Justice Chidyausiku’s stance on the land issue was driven by his passion to safeguard his heritage.
“Taivimba naye kutidzivirira nyaya yezvemunda nekuti kwakanga kuchiri ne avo vemabhunu vaida kuti zvikanganiswe vachienda kuma-court,” said the President.
“Vachienda kuma-court dakara kusvika kunana Britain kwese. Zvino kana muine ma-judge anonzwisisa hupenyu hwenyuwo vari vana vevhuwo, vanotya kuti ivhu rikaenda iri naivo vanenge vasara vavarombo, vanodzivirira nyika vachiti varikuzvidzivirirawo naivo pachavo.”
President Mugabe said Cde Chidyausiku’s views were shaped by the fight for justice during colonialism.
“He was in Parliament with the tacit support of the African National Council. Tainzwanana navo at the time. Zanu, Zapu and Frolizi ndodzakanga dzabatanidzwa kuti dzive under Bishop Muzorewa’s ANC ka. He was thus a lawyer, a legislator and politician all in one.
“When he stood down from Parliament in 1977, the late former Chief Justice continued to work closely from within the country with freedom fighters and the Zanu leadership abroad. At the Lancaster House Conference, he was part of the legal team that comprised the late National Hero Edson Zvogbo, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, the late Professor Walter Kamba, Dr Simbi Mubako and others.”
President Mugabe said Cde Chidyausiku would also be remembered for championing changes to the Judicial Act. He said the late hero had executed his duties well in the recent process to appoint his successor.
“We shall, indeed, surely remember the efforts of Chief Justice Chidyausiku in undertaking the Judicial Act in setting up the Judicial Service Commission — that was his last act. The Judicial Service Commission that reduced a considerable number of justice contenders.
“Ma-judge aida kuva Chief Justice vaikwikwidzana, saka takazopihwa vakasarudzwa vaiva vatatu. Vazhinji vaiva vadonhedzwa zvikanzi mochisarudza pavatatu ava wamungade kuti ava Chief Justice.
“Iye haana kudura kuti vandasarudza ndiyani, aiwa. Vakati ndezvaPresident izvo. Ndokutumira information iyoyo kuna Minister of Justice VaMnangagwa.
“VaMnangagwa ndokuchinyora bepa racho, tsamba yavo, vachitumira zvakanga zvataurwa izvozvo naChief Justice.
Ndokuzvionawo ini ndikati, aiwa zvakanaka, vaJustice Luke Malaba, ndivo vatinosarudza.”
President Mugabe said Cde Chidyausiku had excelled to become a legal expert despite coming from a background where the colonial government did not give blacks equal opportunities at advancement. President Mugabe said the late National Hero had never strayed from the dictates of patriotism and deserved to be interred at the National Heroes Acre.
“We say now, go well son of the soil, wakashanda mushando wakanaka and nyika yose inoti well done faithful servant,” said the President.
“You never went astray. Saka on your departure, the nation inokupfekedza sokupfekedza kwakaitwa vazhinji, vakatunhidzwa vakaitwa maNational Heroes. So we say, go well as a National Hero, may your soul rest in eternal peace.”
At yesterday’s burial were First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe, Vice-Presidents Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Phoko, service chiefs, Cabinet ministers and other senior State officials, and serving and retired chief justices from neighbouring countries.
Cde Chidyausiku retired from the bench on March 1 this year, after serving as head of the judiciary for 16 years. Born on February 23, 1947 in Domboshava, Cde Chidyausiku attended Mutake School at Makumbi Mission, and then St Ignatius College in Chishawasha.
He got a place at the then University of Rhodesia from 1968 to 1972 where he studied Law, after which he went into private legal practice while acting in opposition to Ian Smith’s colonial government.
At Independence in 1980, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing, and then of Justice before becoming Attorney-General in 1982.
Cde Chidyausiku was appointed to the High Court bench and served as chair of the Constitutional Commission charged with drafting a new Constitution for Zimbabwe in 2000. After the resignation of Chief Justice Gubbay, Cde Chidyausiku rose to head Zimbabwe’s judiciary in July 2001.