Massive magistrate transfer looms

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The Chief Magistrates Office is set to embark on a massive transfer exercise of judicial officers with a view to realign magistrates duties and enhance court performance countrywide, it has emerged.

Judiciary Service Commission deputy secretary Rex Shana on Friday confirmed the exercise, saying: There is nothing sinister about what is going to be done. This exercise was supposed to have been carried out regularly, but there were financial implications that hindered the process.

Shana added: Now that funds are permitting, the Chief Magistrates Office is carrying out the exercise and we shall continue doing so in future.

The transfers are expected to affect all the magistrates grade levels in Zimbabwe and have since started to be implemented at different courts. Some senior regional magistrates from Harare Magistrates Court have already been relocated to take up stations elsewhere.

But, regional magistrate-in-charge of the Eastern Division, Daniel Shonhiwa, is reported to have resigned to pursue other interests and unconfirmed reports suggest his throwing-in the towel is linked to the disgruntlement caused by the ongoing transfers.

His position has since been taken up by Hosiah Mujaya, who was based in Rusape. When NewsDay visited Harare Magistrates Court, new magistrates were sitting in courts while trying new cases that were being brought before them.

A court official who declined to be named told NewsDay all regional courts in Zimbabwe would be affected except Gokwe and Masvingo courts.

Its an ongoing process and we are told all grades of magistrates will be affected, starting from junior magistrate, senior, provincial and provincial heads, said the source.

Chief magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe refused to comment on the matter. Its an administrative issue. I cannot comment on it, but you can get what you want from the Judiciary Service Commission, Guvamombe said.

Another court official who refused to be identified commended the idea, but said there were negative implications to the transfers.

It is not a bad idea because some courts need experienced staff and the transfers will solve that problem, but at the same time it will create a delay in finalisation of the cases since the magistrates would be required to travel distances to complete matters at different courts, the court official said.