Chidyausiku is spot-on

HARARE - Reports that the High Court has plans to decentralise is a development that is set to revolutionise the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, we carried a story that government had approved the decentralisation of the High Court from Harare and Bulawayo by upgrading the present circuit centres in Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Hwange and Lupane to the status of permanent High Court stations.

This comes as Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku bemoaned the rising backlog of cases in the courts while opening the 2016 legal year in Harare.

The Chief Justice noted that there were over

40 000 records that had been dormant for three or more years while 20 000 of these were summons of applications which had not been served on the defendants or respondents.

On the other hand, the Labour Court reportedly has over 3 600 cases on the roll.

We feel these figures ought to be lowered.

While opening the 2016 legal year at the Bulawayo High Court on Monday, Judge President George Chiweshe also noted the need for government to appoint more judges to ease the current work following the loss of a number of judges due to promotion to the Supreme Court, death and retirement.

The reliance on the Harare and Bulawayo High Court stations alone to service the whole nation has undoubtedly impacted on the timely administration of justice thus affecting both litigants and practitioners.

Justice delayed is justice denied. The opening of other High Court stations in provincial capitals will obviously expedite the conclusion of cases. Although the High Court occasionally sits in circuit in Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Hwange, the top court battles with a backlog of cases every legal year.

When the court is not in circuit in the given centres, cases from the southern region — Midlands, Masvingo and the three Matabeleland provinces — are referred to Bulawayo while those from the northern region, that is Manicaland and the four Mashonaland provinces, are referred to Harare.

The establishment of the provincial High Court centres will save Treasury money with regards to witnesses’ travel and subsistence expenses as well as related costs incurred by prisons and the police in moving prisoners to and from court centres.

We support the Chief Justice’s clarion call for judges to arrest the backlog in the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court reportedly has a backlog of 146 applicants, according to the Chief Justice.

“If one considers that at best, the Supreme Court can clear 80 cases per year, we need more than one-and-a-half years just to clear the backlog that has accumulated to date,” said Chidyausiku.

The Chief Justice also expressed the need for sharing of statistics and the establishment of a tracking system on matters of crime and its prevalence between the police and the judiciary.

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.