Magistrates’ strike continues

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The nationwide strike by magistrates enters its third day on Wednesdayy after a joint meeting of the Judiciary Services Commission (JSC), Chief Magistrates’ Office and the Magistrates’ Association of Zimbabwe failed to yield results on Tuesday.

The meeting, which lasted four hours, was held behind closed doors at the Supreme Court where journalists were barred.

A joint statement from the three groups issued after the meeting simply acknowledged there was a deadlock and that negotiations would continue.

“We will continue to engage and we will inform the nation on the progress that we will have made in due course,” part of the statement read. “We all appreciate the effects the current impasse and apologise for any inconvenience that may have been caused to the general public.”

Asked to comment on the statement, secretary-general of the Magistrates’ Association Munamato Mutevedzi said the talks had been adjourned and would continue.

JSC deputy secretary Rex Shana said “the public will interpret the statement the way they want to”.

Asked to comment on whether the meeting had resolved that the magistrates would return to work, Shana said:

“That is the decision of the magistrates, not us. We as JSC have not gone on strike and we have issued a statement that they (the association) are leaders of constituencies and we cannot force them to go back to work.”

Clerks of court in Bulawayo on Tuesday downed their tools in solidarity with striking magistrates who are demanding better working conditions.

On Monday, magistrates from all the country’s lower courts went on strike demanding Finance minister Tendai Biti to review their salaries in line with recommendations by their employer, the JSC.

On Tuesday, court officials at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court reported for duty but stayed in their offices, with no one attending the courtrooms.

There were no magistrates at Tredgold Building and Western Commonage, with reports that they had not reported for duty since the strike started.

The strike started on Monday after the Magistrates’ Association issued a statement on Friday accusing Biti of refusing to implement proposed salary reviews given to him by the JSC.

Efforts to get a comment from Biti were fruitless on Tuesday as he was reportedly attending a GNU negotiators’ meeting in Harare.