‘Lazy’ judges taken to task

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Zva­maida Mur­wira Harare Bureau

CHIEF Jus­tice God­frey Chidyausiku has once again slammed some High Court judges for be­ing “lazy” and cre­at­ing a back­log, with one judge only hand­ing down two judge­ments last year while other judges had writ­ten more than 300.

Jus­tice Chidyausiku hit out at Jus­tices Sa­muel Kudya, Al­phas Chi­takunye and Priscilla Chigumba for fail­ing to con­clude cases dur­ing their in­ter­views to be con­sid­ered for el­e­va­tion to the Supreme Court on Thurs­day.

It merged that Jus­tice Kudya had only handed down two judg­ments last year while Jus­tice Chi­takunye handed 69 judg­ments, some­thing the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion said was a cause for con­cern.

Jus­tice Charles Hungwe, who was part of eight judges to be in­ter­viewed, was com­mended for writ­ing more than 100 judg­ments in a year.

“The pres­sure in the Supreme Court is more than at the High Court. Why should the Com­mis­sion be con­vinced that you will write more judg­ments at the Supreme Court when you have not been writ­ing at the High Court. Some of your fel­low judges have writ­ten 330 judg­ments while you have writ­ten two,” said Chief Jus­tice Chidyausiku, while in­ter­view­ing Jus­tice Kudya.

“If it was a small dif­fer­ence of about say 10, I would un­der­stand, but a dis­crep­ancy of about 200, we have prob­lems with that.”

Deputy Chief Jus­tice Luke Mal­aba weighed in say­ing: “You wrote 12 judg­ments in 2013, it means you are not re­ally work­ing.”

In re­sponse, Jus­tice Kudya said he was once Act­ing Sec­re­tary of JSC, a po­si­tion which con­sumed some of his time.

He said in some of the in­stances he dis­posed some of the cases dur­ing pre-trial man­age­ment meet­ings where one party would even­tu­ally with­draw.

“So you are say­ing you are dis­pos­ing the cases through ar­bi­tra­tion and not through judg­ments?” asked Chief Jus­tice Chidyausiku.

Jus­tice Kudya said he is in a spe­cialised court — the Fis­cal Court — where he is the only judge, adding that he re­ceives large vol­umes of doc­u­ments which he needs to go through.

“The 24 hours I have in a day are not enough to deal with a tax case. I am sur­prised I have not had a ner­vous break­down. I have most of the time taught my­self. I have no one to con­sult, one judge who used to do such cases is Re­tired Jus­tice (Ge­orge) Smith and he is now a con­sul­tant of most of the par­ties that ap­pear be­fore me, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to con­sult him,” said Jus­tice Kudya.

“An­other judge is Jus­tice (Ben) Hlatshwayo but he is now at the Supreme Court. I would not want to bother him since I know he is a busy man. Be­sides if I con­sult him what if he is to deal with the very case that I would have con­sulted on ap­peal.”

Jus­tice Chi­takunye said he sits on the African Union Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights and that en­tails trav­el­ling a lot and read­ing vo­lu­mi­nous doc­u­ments and hinted that could be one of the rea­sons for lower out­put.

Chief Jus­tice Chidyausiku said if that was the case, the JSC might con­sider not to sec­ond judges to the con­ti­nen­tal body if their work was be­ing com­pro­mised.

The judges were also taken to task on why they had a higher num­ber of their cases over­turned on ap­peal.

Chief Jus­tice God­frey Chidyausiku

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