Improve working conditions for judicial officers: Chidyausiku

BULAWAYO/HARARE - Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has said poor conditions of service were compromising the work of judicial officers and fuelling corruption.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2015 legal year held at Mashonganyika Building in Harare yesterday, Chidyausiku urged government to improve judicial officers’ remuneration.

“…allow me once again to express my disquiet over the conditions of service of all judicial officers,” Chidyausiku said.

“Our magistrates and judges and all those who support them need to be adequately remunerated.

“This is not only desirable but the Constitution provides for that.

“I am on record saying that a judicial officer who is not appropriately housed and has no reliable transport to and from court is most vulnerable and liable to be compromised.

“I am still of the same view and plead with the powers that be to assist us to curb corruption in the justice delivery chain by improving the conditions of service for all judges, magistrates, the police, prisons officers and prosecutors alike.”

He said he would leave no stone unturned in fighting for the improvement of conditions of service for judicial officers.

Officiating at the event that was attended by Acting President and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana, magistrates and lawyers, Chidyausiku commended five High Court judges for their exceptional work during the 2014 legal year.

The five are Nicholas Mathonsi, Priscillah Chigumba, Loice Matanda-Moyo, Nokuthula Moyo and Charles Hungwe.

“In this regard, let me mention Justice Mathonsi who, in the course of the year, wrote and handed down an impressive 72 judgments,” Chidyausiku said.

“His industry is revealed in its true dimensions if it is compared to the output of the least performing four judges who had two, three, six and 11 judgments respectively for the whole year.”

He said the quartet’s judgments were collectively less than half of Mathonsi’s, adding this was despite the fact that all the judges operate in the same environment and are subject to the same limited and unattractive conditions of service.

“The fifth best performer was Justice Hungwe,” he said.

“This is a remarkable turnaround, because over the years, Justice Hungwe’s performance has been a cause for concern.

“He and I have had conversations over the issue. I am delighted that the conversations have had a positive outcome. Keep it up judge.”

He also commented the magistrates’ courts for managing to reduce case backlogs from 49 000 to 2 000, further urging the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to facilitate the urgent trial of cases.

Chidyausiku further said that the introduction of a case tracking system had helped in identifying the progress being registered in courts.

Meanwhile, officially opening the 2015 legal year in Bulawayo yesterday, judge president George Chiweshe also said the huge backlog of cases was now under control following a significant improvement in the working conditions for judges.

Chiweshe singled out the Bulawayo High Court as having done exceptionally well in its operations as compared to the Harare High Court.

“The workload remains high but I am pleased to report that the backlog is now under control,” he said.

“The Bulawayo station has done particularly well.

“There is virtually no backlog worth talking about at this point in time.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of the judges, legal practitioners and support staff.

“The Harare station has made steady progress in clearing the backlog.”

He said the High Court continues to operate under structural and organic constraints which he said should be immediately addressed not only for capacitating the courts but to ensure the judges have adequate time and space to produce quality judgments.

“This is of paramount importance for any superior court,” Chiweshe said.

“Our judgments guide the lower courts and the profession at large. They also inform the superior courts.”

Zimbabwe has 30 High Court judges, 25 of them based in Harare while Bulawayo has five. An additional six are expected to be appointed to the bench during the course of the year.

The bulk of the workload at the High Court emanated from civil matters and Justice Chiweshe recommended that the regional magistracy be elevated to the status of an intermediate Civil Court linking High Court and the generality of the magistracy.

This, he said, would reduce the number of the not-so-serious cases finding their way to the High Court, thereby reducing the workload.

Last year, the High Court handled 155 trial criminal records finalising 104 with 51 still pending.

The station received a total of 235 bail applications, 161 of which were finalised and 74 were still pending, he said.

“A total of 2 404 criminal review files were received,” Chiweshe said.

“Of that number, 2 338 were processed, leaving a carry-over balance of 66. Criminal appeals were filed. Of these, 817 have been dealt with, leaving a balance of 1 150.”

Chiweshe, however, praised the Judicial Service Commission for enhancing the working environment of judges.

“Conditions of service for judges improved significantly during the year under review, particularly with regards to the provision of appropriate motor vehicles,” he said.

“Judges have been motivated and individual performance has shot up.”

Comments (3)

Improved working conditions "money wise" must come last. I would expect Chief justice to call for total independance of judiciary matters. Respect of rule of Law and constitution. Speak about political interferences within justice system that is so rife in the country. Inconsistance of penalties to those found guilty in the country. Possession of pangolin 15years. Reconection of electricity10years. Murder 8-15yrs .Driving without a licence and causing death to someone must pay cash fine or community service Zimbabweans arrestd in the Ivory saga "elephant poisoning" were dealt with harsly and Asia people got bail. The treatment of that fake pilot who was smuggling diamonds via HRE airport. The least is endless. People must be all equal before the country's laws. Lastly please Chief justice enforce the court oder barring the evictions of people from Manzou farm in mazowe. Put some order then "talk of money" later.

X-MAN IV - 13 January 2015

Shame – these bootlicking people are complaining again. After getting free fuel clothes and wigs / hair extensions, small houses, farms, inputs, machinery, generators. Plasma TV's, fancy vehicles, and tax exemptions they complain more every year. Patrick Chinamasa is on record for stating that the quality of local legal professionals was woefully inadequate. The Judicial Services Commission keep deploying (unannounced) many more prosecutors, Judges and magistrates. Notable is that Godfrey Chidyausiku refrained from saying that his colleagues needed to set a moral and ethical example. He did concede that the element of corruption was present. It is well known that this group are a key element in the hierarchy of the Zanu pf criminal enterprise.

Grabalot Mugariri - 13 January 2015

If Sidlabusuku had not ruled in fever of cio Jealous to have elections in 2013 people could not be suffering as they are doing now right now . Shut up sidlabusuku it is your fault demety!!!.

Diibulaanyika - 14 January 2015

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