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Corruption, politics blight judiciary


The twin evils of corruption and politics are fast eroding public confidence in the judicial system, a senior official has said.

Addressing delegates at a swearing-in ceremony of three magistrates at the Masvingo Magistrates’ Court last Friday, Masvingo provincial magistrate Enias Magate urged incoming and incumbent judicial officers to shun politics and corruption saying the twin vices compromised their ability to deliver impartial judgments.

“Magistrates should not be active members of any political party. It is a very saddening experience if a judicial officer engages in partisan politics as this compromises their impartiality and independence,” he said.

Magate’s call comes amid complaints from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party that some judicial rulings were impartial as they favoured his arch-rival President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF.

Recently, Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment deputy minister Tongai Matutu was convicted of — late last year, assaulting Chief Serima, born Vengesayi Rushwaya, and fined $100 or 25 days in prison.

Matutu, who is also MDC-T MP for Masvingo Urban, appealed against both sentence and conviction, arguing the judgment was political.

Magate decried corruption, which he described as “a deadly virus” that has left many people losing faith and confidence in the bench.

“Surely, corruption is a pandemic that has eroded our attempts to deliver justice. Desist from corrupt activities since they are time bombs which will eventually explode.

“Plant the seeds of responsibility and honesty in our philosophies and nip corruption in the bud. Administration of justice is founded on an earnest and honest character,” he said.

Magistrates are among the lowest-paid government employees with the majority of them earning about $300 a month, hence their susceptibility to engaging in corrupt activities. They recently engaged in an industrial action demanding a salary increment.

Speaking at the same function, regional prosecutor Mirirai Shumba reminded the judicial officers that they were not a law unto themselves.

“Work in tandem with other stakeholders and listen to submissions by prosecutors. You should also try not to be extravagant as you will end up reaping where you did not sow,” said Shumba.

Magate said the three new magistrates, Waini Makamera, Dorothy Mwanyisa and Honesty Musiyiwa, were expected to ease the backlog of cases at Masvingo Magistrates’ Courts.

There are 830 criminal cases and 442 civil cases which are yet to be heard.

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