Chief Justice Chidyausiku bemoans allowance withdrawal

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CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku yesterday applauded the magistrates’ courts for reducing the backlog from 45 000 to 10 000 between January and November last year despite poor working conditions.

BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
SENIOR REPORTER

But he expressed fears that government’s recent decision to suspend payment of skills retention allowances for judicial officers could reverse those gains.
Chidyausiku also decried the alteration of conditions of service for sitting judges, which he described as “unconstitutional”.

Opening the 2014 legal year in Harare yesterday, Chidyausiku said the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) was currently working to ensure the development would not negatively impact on the sector.

“We, in the Judicial Service Commission, are currently engaging all stakeholders to ensure that this development does not have the effect of reversing the gains that we had made in reducing the backlog in the Magistrates Court,” the Chief Justice said.

This came after Civil Service Commission secretary Pretty Sunguro, in a circular, recently indicated that government had stopped payment of monthly skills retention allowances for magistrates, law officers, prosecutors and other legal officers due to financial challenges gripping the country.

Chidyausiku said the performance of the magistrates’ courts exceeded expectations in 2013 during which year they cleared the huge backlog despite manpower shortages and poor service conditions.

Turning to the conditions of service for judges, Chidyausiku said: “This serious breach of the Constitution persists to this date, but we remain hopeful that our concerns shall be addressed as soon as the fiscal space allows.”

He commended the Supreme Court which he said had a clearance rate of 78% and was likely to deal with all appeals by mid-2014.

The chief justice, however, lamented the situation at the Labour Court where he said the inflow of cases exceeded the disposal rate and arbitrators gave out “outrageous” awards divorced from the country’s economic situation.

Turning to the High Court, Chidyausiku expressed hope that the appointment of additional judges would lighten the burden.

The Administrative Court, which finalised 56 of the 128 cases on its roll during the past year, has seen the number of cases filed dwindling, according to Chidyausiku.

He described 2013 as a busy year for the legal sector because it was an election year characterised by “a spate of election-related litigation in the Constitutional Court”.

He said the Registrar was working on a raft of measures for the swift movement of constitutional applications designed to stop litigants from abusing the court through approaching it with requests that were not genuine and would not be pursued to finality.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Ngavasevenze sezvatiri kungoitawo isu mapurisa, masoja, manesi, madhumeni, etc! Inga zvakanzi mari hakuna wani. Yozowanikwa yavo vega seizve?

  2. mucivil servant mucivil servant kana mari ichipihwa vanhu ngavapihwe vese, magistrates are mere lawyers, what about engineers, architects, lecturers, etc kana maworking conditions asingavaitire they should also seek greener pastures just like emgineers are going to S.A , AUSTRALIA, NAMIBIA, DUBAI, whats so special about themanyway vagara vari kuwana mari yakawanda nehuori kudhara, mapango ano drivwa nemamagistrates vari kuawana kupi even their judgements leave a lot to be desired

  3. Serves them right, they were biased during the elections court cases in favour of zanu pf thinking they were smart. Now they must suffer the consequences of dire poverty like all other Zimbabweans. Give them $250 per month salary

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