From George Maponga in Masvingo
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has deployed a third judge at the Masvingo High Court. The development is expected to improve the justice delivery system in the province. Justice Sunsley Zisengwe recently joined Justices Garainesu Mawadze and Neville Wamambo on the Masvingo bench.
Justice Zisengwe’s deployment, coupled with plans to open a permanent Labour Court in Masvingo, will help bring justice closer to the people.
Government, through the JSC, has been decentralising the High Court to provinces.
Speaking during the official opening of the 2020 Legal year at the Masvingo High Court yesterday, Constitutional and Supreme Court Judge Justice Paddington Garwe said the third judge would enhance justice delivery.
“Since its opening Masvingo High Court has always been manned by two judges. It is indeed pleasing to note that as we move into 2020, it will now be manned by three judges.”
“This development brings with it some advantages as the addition in numbers will obviously ensure that justice is not delayed as more cases will be dealt with and finalised without delay,” he said.
“This will also lessen pressure on the individual judges which will in turn allow them to do more research and write quality judgments thereby developing our jurisprudence. It is not uncommon for two judges to disagree in a matter on appeal or review. In terms of the High Court Act, this may necessitate the appointment of a third judge.”
Masvingo High Court’s Criminal Division opened in 2019 with 102 cases and received 1 084 more cases giving a total of 1 186 cases. Out of these, 1 084 were completed during the year leaving a balance of 102.
The Civil Division had 461 cases last year and 393 of them were completed leaving a balance of 68 cases by December 31.
“No doubt the performance of the Masvingo High Court was impressive and pleasing especially when regard is given to the fact that the court was only manned by two judges during 2019,” said Justice Garwe.
“Now that an additional judge has been posted to Masvingo, expectations are that the performance at the end of this year will even be better.”
Justice Garwe said to improve justice delivery in the province, plans were already in motion to open a Labour Court, which was currently serviced by a circuit court.
He appealed to the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira and other stakeholders to assist in identifying a building to house the proposed Labour Court.
“It is not fair for the residents of this province to travel to Harare or Gweru to access the Labour Court. This is an issue that the JSC is seized with. As an institution we are actively looking for a building which can be renovated and customised into a Labour Court.”
Turning to this year’s Legal Year theme, “Judicial Transparency and Accountability,” Justice Garwe decried a growing trend where some lawyers were filing applications at the Masvingo High Court that under careful consideration should be filed in Harare.
Justice Garwe cited three such cases filed by Harare-based lawyers and clients which he said negated the thrust of transparency in the eyes of the public.
He also reminded the legal fraternity to be mindful of the ongoing thrust against corruption in the country.
Among the cases expected to be heard this year is the treason trial of MDC-Alliance vice chair Job Sikhala, which begins on January 27.
Present at the opening was Zimbabwe chiefs council president Chief Fortune Charumbira, Great Zimbabwe University Vice Chancellor Professor Rungano Zvobgo, lawyers and senior Government officials in the province.