Harare provincial magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe, together with the area public prosecutor Andrew Kumire, held a marathon meeting with magistrates and prosecutors last Friday where issues of corruption and court management took centre stage.
The meeting comes after an attack on the prosecution by the Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba for allegedly abusing court processes by delaying setting down of criminal appeals before the High Court.
Justice Malaba said the rules of civil procedure were intended to simplify litigations and speed up the completion of cases and not delay processes.
“If cases are brought to court, but not set down for hearing and determination when they should, they clog the system. They will in many instances have been filed for purposes of delay,” Malaba said.
He said this during the opening of the 2011 legal year in Bulawayo last week.
Addressing magistrates and prosecutors on the way forward for the year 2011, Guvamombe and Kumire are said to have touched on issues affecting the justice delivery system in the magistrates’ courts, such as the delay in completing matters and corruption.
A source who declined to be named but who attended the meeting said Guvamombe and Kumire addressed issues pertaining to court management and backlog of cases, but emphasised zero tolerance to corruption among the judicial officers.
“They were bitter about some magistrates and prosecutors whom they said deliberately delayed matters in order to receive kickbacks and to pass judgments in favour of their clients,” said the source.
Contacted for comment, Guvamombe declined to shed more light on the nature of the meeting, but confirmed holding a meeting with magistrates and prosecutors.
“Every beginning of the year we hold meetings with members of staff to address issues of court management and to make sure we deal with backlogs.
“We want our witnesses to testify in time and matters dealt with expeditiously,” Guvamombe said.
Asked to comment on whether corruption was a factor contributing to the delay in completing court matters he said: “We have zero tolerance on corruption but there are many factors that contribute to the delays in completing matters, no wonder we held the meeting to map the proper way forward.”
Area public prosecutor Kumire could not be reached for comment on Monday as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Guvamombe will hold a meeting with court interpreters today where he is also expected to address the officers of the court and warn them against corrupt practices and deal with other issues of court management.