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Monitor - Special Edition
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
February 04, 2013
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pledges to clear backlog
Service Commission (JSC) says it is working flat out to clear the
backlog of cases at the country's Magistrates' Courts,
senior officials have said.
In an interview
with The Legal Monitor, the JSC Secretary, Justice Rita Makarau
said since the incorporation of the Magistrates' Courts into
the JSC, the judicial officers were now more accountable and results
showed a great improvement in the determination and disposal rate
the Chief Justice (Godfrey Chidyausiku, who heads the JSC) is interested
in the output of the courts, he wants reports on a regular basis
and we have seen a marked improvement," said Justice Makarau.
Courts are a living example. This year we have recorded a decrease
in the backlog by 65 percent because now the Chief Justice is demanding
reports; what is each station doing, why they are not performing,"
said Justice Makarau, adding that the JSC was dealing with problems
which caused courts to fail to perform.
of that close monitoring by the head of the judiciary himself we
have seen a marked reduction in the backlog. Magistrates are now
accountable. They have time that they have to spend in court and
reports are compiled every month for each and every magistrate.
magistrate was not in court, say for the 60 hours, reasons have
to be given. If one did not perform then the Chief Justice will
come hard on that individual," the former Judge President
She said when
the Magistrates' Courts were part of the Public Service Commission,
a fragmented judiciary resulted in lack of accountability.
were left to the Chief Magistrate to run and he would simply file
reports with the permanent secretary (in the Ministry of Justice
and Legal Affairs) who was not in a position to then direct how
things should operate."
Asked if the
days of laissez faire at the Magistrates Courts were gone for good,
the JSC Secretary said: "Gone are those days. Everybody now
has to account. You have a minimum number of hours that you have
to put in at court. If you don't put in those hours, you have
to explain yourself. You cannot just come in and remand cases. Your
disposal rate is looked at; how many cases have you completed per
month? T here is a monthly report that goes to the Chief Justice
and if we continue with that trend we can wipe out the backlog in
two years, completely, in the Magistrates' Courts."
She said the
JSC was still compiling statistics in other courts such as the Labour
and Administrative Courts to measure output.
same spirit pervades the entire judicial service. Everybody now
knows they are being monitored not only on the quantity that they
produce but the quality of work as well, so nobody wants the Chief
Justice to be constantly calling them to explain," she added.
revealed that magistrates stationed at Gokwe and Chivhu courts were
outstanding as they had already cleared their backlogs.
are actually waiting for cases to come. But instead of waiting in
the courtroom for cases to come, we have begun transferring cases
from other busy stations to courts where work is less busy,"
she said. "We are quite proud of that achievement - for the
first time we have zero backlog in some areas. "
Her deputy Rex
Shana said assistance from the Royal Danish embassy, which provided
11 vehicles to the JSC, plus the extra effort by the JSC had eased
some of the problems experienced by magistrates such as failing
to reach some remote circuit courts.
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