Chidyausiku demands free polls

HARARE - Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has demanded free and fair elections as the country braces for a referendum and a general poll likely to be the hardest fought since independence.

Speaking at the opening of the High Court judicial year, Chidyausiku said: “As the nation gears itself up for the elections, we add our voice to those who are calling for free and fair elections that are held in a violence-free atmosphere.”

Zimbabwe is expected to hold watershed presidential, parliamentary and local government elections this year to end the fragile coalition government formed after the 2008 violent and disputed presidential election run-off.

“Whilst the courts stand ready to hear cases relating to the forthcoming elections, it is my fervent hope that litigation, if any, relating to the running of and the results emerging from the polls will be very little,” said Chidyausiku.

He said despite challenges, the judiciary had registered positive developments.

“A positive development in the High Court during the course of the year 2012 that I am particularly happy to report on was the successful development of a home grown electronic case-tracking system in the civil registry of the High Court at Harare. For all those cases filed in 2013, the Registry now scans the pleadings and letters filed and immediately creates an electronic copy of these,” he said.

“This must be sad news to all those unethical lawyers and litigants who used to request our offices to backdate pleadings for a fee of course. To these lawyers, I say, “you may continue to request our offices to backdate your pleadings but the date the pleading was scanned cannot be backdated as I have been assured that the scanner does not take bribes, even from lawyers”.

“I am also informed that with the simultaneous creation of an electronic copy of any document upon its filing, the destruction of records or key documents in any record is again no longer profitable business for our clerks,” said Chidyausiku.

He called for a concerted effort from members of the law society, police, prisons and the Attorney General to curb corruption in the justice delivery system.

Chidyausiku expressed concern at the number of murder cases brought to the High Court and said a way should be devised to make people respect the sanctity of human life.

“In most cases the disputes are triggered by trivial issues that could have been resolved otherwise. The existence of the death penalty in our system on its own appears not to be bringing in the desired result.

“I therefore call upon all leaders in the community to look into the issue and devise ways of minimising the incidences of unnecessary deaths in their respective communities,” Chidyausiku said. - Tendai Kamhungira

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