PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday challenged judges and magistrates to defend human rights and ensure good governance.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
He made the call while launching the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) five-year strategic plan in Harare.
Mnangagwa, whose government has come under fire for rising cases of human rights abuses and corruption, urged the Judiciary to step up in the delivery of justice.
“The Judiciary is vital towards the attainment of both vision 2030 as well as aspiration number three of the African Union Agenda 2063 which calls for ‘an Africa of good governance, respect for human rights, justice and rule of law’,” Mnangagwa said.
Since coming into office in 2017, Mnangagwa has pledged reforms, especially around respect for human rights, political freedoms and respect of the Constitution, but critics say abuses have worsened under his watch.
“The second republic is determined to enhance national cohesion, economic growth and prosperity and to build an environment where our people can rise to their full potential.
“There is no going back on the development course we have charted.
“To this end, the JSC is a critical State institution in our ongoing reform agenda with regards entrenching constitutionalism and the rule of law as building blocks in our national development agenda,” Mnangagwa said.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba, in delivering his address, appeared to be responding to concerns that the Judiciary was captured and now pandering to the whims of political elites.
He said the strategic plan sought to reinforce the independence of the Judiciary so that it remains accountable to the public.
“Through this strategic plan, the commission seeks to enhance the independence and financial autonomy of the Judiciary in order to continue modernising it and making it more accountable to the public from whom the judicial authority derives,” Justice Malaba said.
He said his colleagues play a very important role in keeping the Constitution alive.
“The courts are the custodians of the Constitution and the bulwark against the erosion of human rights and freedoms. In that regard, the requirement for an independent and accountable Judiciary cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
The Chief Justice has been sued by Justice Erica Ndewere who alleges that he has actively sought to undermine Judiciary independence by issuing directives on who to give or deny bail on political grounds.
Justice Malaba said the JSC was fighting to eradicate corruption within its ranks and in society.
“It is in this context that the fight against corruption and incompetency at every level of JSC has been identified as one of the key strategic focus areas under the accountability matrix of the plan,” he said.