The Chief Justice of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, has officially opened the 2018 legal year at Mashonganyika Building in Harare.

Chief Justice Malaba presided over the legal year opening ceremony for the first time since his appointment to the esteemed office in April last year.

He said today’s ceremony affords the judiciary an opportunity to review its performance in the just ended year while at the same time sharing its vision for the new legal year regarding the improvement of service delivery.

Chief Justice Malaba commended the judges output in 2017, saying there is need to build on this trajectory in the new legal year.

“I expect the judiciary officers to hit the ground running this year and expeditiously deal with cases to reduce backlogs,” said Chief Justice Malaba.

He said the judiciary is anchored on accessibility, efficiency, transparency and independence, adding that as the judiciary they endeavour to avail well-equipped court facilities, closer to the people and with competent staff.

Chief Justice Malaba lamented the shortages of magistrates in the country imploring treasury to make considerations. He also spoke about the need to review salaries of judiciary officers.

Chief Justice Malaba commended President Emmerson Mnangagwa for recently appointing 8 new judges of the high court, saying this will ensure cases are processed expeditiously thereby reducing backlogs.

He, however, appealed for the appointment of more Supreme Court judges.

Chief Justice Malaba also spoke about the decentralisation of the High Court.

“The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) made a decision to decentralise the High Court, hence the opening of the Masvingo High Court. The Mutare High Court is expected to be opened during the first quarter of 2018,” he said.

He revealed that in 2020, the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court will be expected to operate separately in line with the constitution of Zimbabwe.

“The JSC will this year start administrative processes to ensure the separation is done,” Chief Justice Malaba said.

Chief Justice Malaba said the shortage of court rooms in the Bulawayo High Court is being addressed through moving the Master of the High Court to different premise.

“There is a shortage of court rooms in the Bulawayo High Court. A decision has been made to move the Master of the High Court to a separate location. The space previously occupied by the Master will be used to create two more court-rooms,” he said.

The chief justice said as Zimbabwe will be holding harmonised elections this year, the rule of law will be crucial if the country is to hold a free, fair and credible election.

Chief Justice Malaba had started his address by congratulating President Mnangagwa for his inauguration as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in November last year.

He also congratulated vice presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi; Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi, and Prosecutor General Advocate Ray Goba, for their appointments, respectively.

Similar legal year opening ceremonies were also held concurrently in Bulawayo and Masvingo.