Judges adopt code of ethics

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Zimbabwe’s Judiciary has adopted a code of ethics for judges aimed at setting standards by which the conduct of judges would be assessed.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba said the code would provide a procedure for receiving, investigating, hearing and determining complainants of misconduct by judges made against them by the public.

He was speaking during the official opening of the 2012 High Court legal year in Harare yesterday. The function was attended by top government officials.
Malaba said:

“To be effective, judicial officers require the respect and faith of the communities they serve.

“Public confidence is critical to the administration of justice. Making the judicial officers accountable for their conduct is one way of maintaining public respect for the Judiciary.”

He said the code of conduct was intended to promote rather than inhibit the independence of the Judiciary in the discharge of their judicial functions.

Turning to case backlogs, Malaba commended Bulawayo High Court judges for dispensing more cases brought before them than their counterpatrs in Harare.

In Harare, Malaba said, 2 104 chamber applications were received of which 1 083 were disposed leaving a backlog of 1 021. 2 201 unopposed matters were set down for hearing of which 998 were disposed of leaving a backlog of 1 203 while 152 criminal cases were set down for hearing and only 38 were disposed of.

At least 419 chamber applications were received in Bulawayo, of which 339 were disposed of and out of 353 unopposed applications, 259 were disposed of while 72 criminal cases were set down and 41 were dealt with.

“Sadly, the disposition rate at the High Court sitting in Harare is disappointing,” Malaba said.

“It is apparent from figures the number of cases representing the unfinished work is too high attesting to the grave problem of delays in the delivery of justice.

“The impression one gets from the examination of figures representing the disposition rate is that not much time was spent hearing and determining cases,” he said.

There was ample evidence Bulawayo judges spent time hearing and determining cases brought before them than their Harare counterparts.

Malaba said the current number of presidents of the Labour Court battling to deal with the ever-increasing caseload and said there was justification for a request for appointment of additional presidents.