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MDC T PRESS STATEMENT ON THE OPENING OF THE ZIMBABWEAN

JUDICIAL YEAR 2016


The MDC T welcomes the opening of the judicial year by the Hon.
Chief Justice G Chidyausiku the head of the judicial arm of
government as that practice is key in upholding the rule of law and
heeds the hallowed doctrine of the separation of powers. This is very
much unlike the anomaly that continues to happen in the legislative
arm of government where the head of the executive arm of
government continues to officially open legislative sessions despite
the Constitution no longer requiring it and instead requiring him to
now issue an annual State of the Nation Address. The embarrassing
error of reading the state of the nation address for the second time in
three weeks instead of an official opening speech is therefore
understandable and clearly demonstrates the redundancy and
untidiness of an official opening of the legislature by the head of the
executive.
The MDC T applauds the generally commendable performance of the
various courts that constitute the judiciary, in disposing of their
caseload in very difficult circumstances of conditions of work that
include dilapidated court buildings in many respects. The MDC T is
gravely concerned by the inevitable undermining of the
independence of the judiciary arising from the recent failure by the
State to pay December 2015 civil service and other State officials
salaries and the promised 13th cheque. Any failure to adequately
remunerate judicial officers not only undermines the independence
of the judiciary but also impedes justice delivery. The MDC T
therefore calls upon the government to urgently adopt measures that
secure the salaries of all officials paid by the State in the judicial
system and improves their general working environment as it cannot
now rely on donor support as the Danish Embassy which supported
courts construction closed in Zimbabwe.
The MDC T welcomes the Honourable Chief Justices exhortation to
the police to enhance transparency and accountability by sharing
with the judiciary crime statistics. The MDC T is concerned by the
opaqueness of police dealings which is manifest even in the Police
Commissioner General failing to ever have an annual report tabled in
Parliament in terms of section 13 of the Police Act Chapter 11:10
which would also no doubt assist the judiciary. The MDC T therefore

calls upon the police to remove its cloak of opaqueness, in the


interests of justice and share crime statistics as required.
The MDC T is surprised that the Honourable Chief Justice included
the police among those key players of the justice delivery system that
the judiciary has enjoyed cordial relations with when the one of the
previous years unfortunate blemishes was the unprecedented and
contemptuous public attack on and disdain of the courts by a senior
police officer in relation to the Honourable High Courts decision on
illegal spot fines. The MDC T hopes that the Zimbabwe Republic
Police has since learnt of the unlawfulness of such conduct and in any
event implores the Attorney General to assist it to understand its
responsibility to respect the judiciarys authority.
The MDC T applauds the judiciarys efforts to decentralize and
devolve the High Court to other major centres beyond Harare and
Bulawayo in keeping with the principle of devolution in the
Constitution. It however implores the Judicial Service Commission to
prioritise Hwange in view of its 300 to 400 km distance from the
Bulawayo High Court in comparison to the approximately 200km
radius respectively between of Masvingo, Mutare and Gweru with
either Harare or Bulawayo High Courts.
The MDC T is also pleasantly surprised that the Honourable Chief
Justice noted few reports of the Zimbabwe Prison Services failing to
transport prisoners for court sittings, given the inadequate funding
by the fiscus of the Prisons and Correctional Service. It implores the
Executive to fund the services adequately including the community
service programme which received no allocation from treasury as
well as the movement of juvenile offenders to Hwahwa Juvenile
prison instead of them languishing in adults prisons due to lack of
transport.
The MDC T welcomes the Honourable Chief Justices opening of
dialogue with the Law Society rather than unilaterally deciding to bar
junior lawyers from the higher courts. The MDC T is concerned about
the inhibitive effect such a measure would have on access to justice
by poor litigants as its logical conclusion may be that self actors who
cannot afford lawyers would not then be allowed to appear before
the higher courts.

While the MDC T salutes the Constitutional Court for its strident
efforts in clearing its caseload it is disturbed by the one and half year
delay in concluding cases and the inordinate number of reserved
judgments and court orders without reasons. The MDC T laments
that the governments unwillingness to implement the Constitution is
the key cause of an avoidable increase in constitutional court
applications. It warns that these constitutional challenges are going
to increase with increased public constitutional awareness, thereby
spawning a veritable constitutional crisis.
The MDC T sees no reason why the stand alone Constitutional Court,
physically separate from the Supreme Court as established by section
166 of the Constitution should wait for the four more years
envisaged by the 6th Schedule to the Constitution. The reality of
constitutional justice as explained by the Honourable Chief Justice
demands it, and the 6th schedules wording permits its operation
now.
The MDC T therefore implores
1. The Attorney General to advise his client the government on
its obligation to urgently and robustly implement the
Constitution in order to avoid unnecessary Constitutional
Court litigation, and in any to event concede the to
unconstitutionality of its clients actions and desist forthwith
from defending the indefensible actions of his client
2. The Judicial Services Commission to interview more judges for
appointment to the Supreme Court so that the there is a
sufficient complement of 5 judges to conduct Constitutional
Court duties exclusively while in the meantime appointing
acting Constitutional Court judges
3. The Judicial Service Commission to make all haste to
promulgate the long outstanding rules of the Constitutional
Court, as well as review all court rules to accord with the
Constitution and to address the gaps such as the disposal of
dormant cases the Honourable Chief Justice mentioned
4. The Judicial Service Commission to implement a programme of
training of all judicial officers in all courts below the Supreme
Court on the to exercise of their new constitutional dispute
jurisdiction
5. The Judicial Services Commission to interview and appoint
judges to the Electoral Court so that it ceases the
unconstitutional practice of appointing High Court judges to

more than one court which is specifically prohibited by section


183 of the Constitution
6. The Judicial Service Commission to implement its Code of
Conduct for judicial officers in order to avoid relying only on
the introspection of low performing judges that the
Honourable Chief Justice mentioned, as well as to deal with the
scourge of corruption he also mentioned.
7. Finally, the Executive to allocate sufficient funding to the
Judicial Service Commission as required by section 325 of the
Constitution and in a manner that respects its independence.
Fungayi Jessie Majome MP
MDC T Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
January 2016