THE Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs’ budget allocation has decreased from 3,2% last year to 2,64% this year in a move the ministry said will hinder its operations despite being among the top 10 priority beneficiaries of the $4,4 billion budget.
Although the ministry had filed a $279 876 996 bid to Treasury, it was allocated $108 957 000, just 38,9% of what they required, according to Jessie Majome, chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee.
In her budget analysis report, Majome said the ministry will not be able to achieve its objectives for the fiscal year because of the paltry funds.
“The fact that the ministry is ranked among the highest 10 recipients in the budget shows the economic and social importance of the ministry, but due to the paltry sums allocated, the ranking will do little to impact on the role of the ministry,” she said.
During the official opening of the 2014 legal year on January 13, Chief Justice Chidyausiku said the sector was facing serious challenges due to severe underfunding.
“The challenges that we have enumerated during past addresses remain. These include severe underfunding and unattractive conditions of service for all members of the judicial service as well as unfulfilled conditions of services for all judges,” he said.
The budget analysis report also noted that the ministry was a victim of the socio-economic hardships experienced in the country over the last decade.
Civil Service Commission secretary Pretty Sunguro
recently announced in a circular 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.
The decision, according to Justice Chidyausiku, was likely to reverse gains made by the judicial sector in the timely dispensation of justice.
“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 Magistrate’s Court,” the Chief Justice said.