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rest for Constitutional Court judges
Ndamu Sandu, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
June 30, 2013
Court will hear a consolidated application for an extension
of the election date on Thursday, the ninth case the bench will
adjudicate on since its formation last month.
speed in handling cases has raised hopes that the wheels of justice
could finally move faster in a country, where it can take years
for cases to be decided.
judiciary system has been accused of taking longer to dispense rulings
and in the process short-changing applicants, since justice delayed
is considered justice denied. Many of the cases involved human rights
Since it began
work following the signing into law of the new Constitution
on May 22, over 60 applications have been filed with the court.
It has reserved judgements in two cases, ruled in favour of Mutumwa
Mawere in his citizenship fight with the Registrar-General and has
also dismissed two cases, raising hopes that the wheel of justice
are moving in the fast lane.
caution that this does not reflect that the lower courts will move
with speed, replicating the Constitutional Court.
expert Greg Linnington said the cases have been heard earlier, as
the applications were urgent and related to elections which President
Robert Mugabe proclaimed
should be held on July 31.
programmes have also meant that the judges, who also sit on the
Supreme Court bench, are kept on their toes raising fears this may
have an effect on their work in the other court.
paragraph 18 the Sixth Schedule to the new Constitution, for the
next seven years the judges of the Supreme Court will double as
judges of the Constitutional Court. Only after that will the entirely
separate Constitutional Court envisaged by the new Constitution
come into existence.
As such, constitutional
cases will be heard by Supreme Court judges with nine judges instead
of five, as was in the old Constitution.
The bench will
hear not only new cases but all pending constitutional cases lodged
with the Supreme Court before May 22, in which that court had not
yet heard argument from the parties.
The bench has
nine judges - Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and his deputy Luke
Malaba, Judge President George Chiweshe, Justice Antoinette Guvava,
Justice Paddington Garwe, Justice Anne-Marie Gowora, Justice Vernanda
Ziyambi, Justice Bharat Patel and Justice Ben Hlatshwayo.
the Constitutional Court will be stretched if the recent applications
are anything to go by.
the judges will hear a consolidated application by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa,
Nixon Nyikadzino and Mariah Phiri for an extension of the election
date from July 31.
the broadness of the Bill of Rights, they are going to be stretched.
There will be a number of cases coming up as people who were oppressed
will use the opportunity to assert their rights,” said a Harare-based
lawyer who requested anonymity.
a Constitutional Court for one month and there are more than 30
cases and this means we are going to see serious activities in court.”
The lawyer said
the cases were a test on the bench’s credibility and “have
to show whether or not they will come out with their fingers unscathed”.
He said the
bench has to unshackle itself from the perception that its members,
by virtue of doubling as Supreme Court judges, had in the past responded
to the needs of one political party.
their responsibility to make sure that they are seen as an independent
and an impartial bench, whose duty is to interpret the law,”
the lawyer said.
he preferred the South African model which has separate judges for
the Constitutional and Supreme courts to the Zimbabwean scenario.
a pity we don’t have that in Zimbabwe, that would have made
the case pretty good,” Linnington said.
of Zimbabwe law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku said Zimbabwe was
a small country and did not have a busy court calendar.
He said since
the court was supposed to run for seven years, it would be possible
to see at the end of its tenure whether it was necessary to have
separate judges, adding that “it costs money to have separate
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