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Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 16:23 GMT
New top judge in Zimbabwe
squatters on a white-owned farm
Farm occupations brought the government into conflict with the courts
A political ally of President Mugabe has been sworn in as acting chief justice in Zimbabwe.

Godfrey Chidyausiku replaces Anthony Gubbay, who is being forced to take early retirement.

Godfrey Chidyausiku
1980 - Deputy local government minister
1981- Deputy justice minister
1982 - Attorney general
1987 - High Court judge
2000 - Headed constitutional commission
The move followed a series of Supreme Court verdicts to which Mr Mugabe's government took exception.

However, correspondents say the court is likely to continue its track record of measuring the government's actions against the requirements of the constitution,

Bias

Just a week ago, Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay succumbed to months of government pressure and intimidation by agreeing to go on immediate leave before taking early retirement in late June.

The government accused the judge, who is white, of bias in favour of Zimbabwe's white minority.

Mr Gubbay had angered President Mugabe by ruling against ministers several times over the government's controversial land reform programme - in which land is being redistributed without compensation.

Observers say Mr Mugabe has been determined to have a more compliant Supreme Court - especially ahead of presidential elections due by next year.

New Supreme Court head Godfrey Chidyausiku is a former deputy minister and attorney general.

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See also:

09 Mar 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe buries murdered farmer
02 Mar 01 | Africa
Zimbabwe resolves judge row
10 Feb 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Zimbabwe's descent into violence
26 Oct 00 | Africa
Mugabe under pressure
19 Feb 01 | Africa
Why I left Zimbabwe
10 Feb 01 | Africa
Zanu-PF ups pressure on judges
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