Chief Justice Luke Malaba has warned Zimbabweans against denigrating the courts.

Officially opening the 2019 legal year, the Chief Justice says the court will not reverse its decisions based on confrontations and unfounded allegations by litigants.

The judiciary is one of the three arms of government that derives its powers from the constitution and the people.

Chief Justice Malaba says the denigration and confrontations with the court is against the rule of law.

He said litigants must follow procedures when not satisfied with court decisions.

He revealed that judges are not immune to criticism but emphasized that the criticism must remain professional and in terms of the law.

On issues of corruption, the head of the judiciary revealed that extra ordinary mechanisms have been put in place to ensure all complicated corruption cases are dealt with in order to complement government efforts in ending corruption and its harmful effects.

The investigating authorities and the National Prosecuting Authority have been challenged to thoroughly investigate cases before bringing them to court.

Review of court rules is one aspect the legal fraternity has been fighting for and the head of judiciary has announced that most rules are now in place while some are being finalised.

Overcrowding at Rotten Row and Mbare Court is set to be addressed by the establishment of more magistrate courts in Harare.

The official opening of the new legal year provides a platform for the head of the judiciary to brief the nation on the developments in the justice delivery system.

‘Recruit more judges in Masvingo’

In Masvingo, the official opening of the 2019 legal year was marked with calls for recruitment of more judges as stakeholders pointed out that the workload is overwhelming for the current establishment of two judges.

The introduction of a permanent High Court in Masvingo province in 2016 was a welcome development for the many individuals who had to travel either to Harare or Bulawayo courts for services.

The High Court in Masvingo has been operating with two judges, Justice Garainesu Mawadze and Justice Joseph Mafusire.

Lawyers Mr Foroma Chakabuda and Mr Phillip Shumba, say there is need to increase the number of judges as the current workload is overwhelming for the two judges.

“These two judges remember they are human, there is a huge backlog and there is need to make sure we get more judges,” Mr Chakabuda said.

Constitutional and Supreme Court judge Justice Paddington Garwe, who presided over the official opening of the Masvingo legal year, commended the Masvingo High Court judges for achieving an 89 percent and 92 percent clearance rate for civil and criminal rates respectively.

“I say well done to the two judges who are stationed here. We hope during this year you will work harder and reduce the backlog even further,” he said.

Byo High Court lauded

The Bulawayo High Court has been applauded for reducing court cases backlog an accomplishment described by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza as a step towards timely and efficient justice delivery.

In her address while officiating at the opening of the 2019 legal year, Deputy Chief Justice Gwaunza commended judicial officers in Bulawayo under the stewardship of senior Justice Makonese for their efficiency and dedication to duty.

The bench has managed to clear 4971 cases after the inclusion of backlog clearance from 2017 despite the fact that Bulawayo High Court bench has dwindled from six to four judges.

JSC to continue decentralising High Court operations

Judge President Justice George Chiweshe said the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will continue decentralising operations of the High Court to make access to the courts easier.

He was speaking during the opening of the legal year in Mutare where he noted justice delayed is justice denied so having high courts in provinces will mean matters that require the attention of the court are speedily dealt.

“I referred to the decentralisation of the operations of the high Court in order to enhance greater access to justice. This programme will see to the establishment of a permanent high court station in each province. Subject to availability of resources, further provincial stations will be opened across the length and breadth of our country in fullness of time,” said Justice Chiweshe.

The establishment of the High Court in Mutare has brought efficiency in the justice system contends legal minds from the province.

Mutare High Court managed to complete a total of 634 out of 695 matters brought before the court in 2018 which was described as impressive by the Judge President.

The High Court which was opened in May last year only began operations in June following the deployment of Honourable Mrs Justice Hlekhani Mwayera who was later joined by Mr Justice Isaac Muzenda.