Govt to set up corruption courts
THE Government will set up special courts for the management and trial of corruption-related cases in the next six months, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday.
Speaking in Mvuma where he commissioned a new magistrates’ court as part of the Government’s initiative to improve access to justice, Cde Mnangagwa said stakeholders in the Against Corruption Together campaign had given their input on the special courts which would be commissioned soon. “Those special courts must be operational in the first half of 2017. Concerted efforts are required not only in the justice delivery sector but across all facets of the economy and in both public and private sectors,” he said.
“We in Government will never be fatigued in that battle as it is the only way in which the economic recovery of Zimbabwe can be guaranteed.
“Therapy of every illness begins with acceptance of that illness. It is only acceptance of the reality of the scourge of corruption and the willingness to openly tackle it that Zimbabwe stands a better chance of winning the battle against it. Government on its part is ready to support any initiative to fight corruption.”
Acting President Mnangagwa said the country is committed to the Ease of Doing Business reform agenda which among other issues requires the expeditious resolution of all commercial disputes particularly at the magistrates’ court level.
To achieve that, he said, Cabinet has sanctioned the amendment of various pieces of legislation like the Magistrates Court Act and the Small Claims Court Act which will designate every Magistrate’s Court as a Commercial Court and Small Claims Court respectively.
“This however, cannot be achieved with the shortage of judicial officers obtaining in the country at the moment. This new courthouse for example has two courtrooms but the station only has one magistrate. It is necessary therefore that the number of magistrates be increased significantly to complement the efforts being made to improve the Ease of Doing Business,” the Acting President said.
He said the government takes pride in the initiatives by the Judiciary Services Commission (JSC) which neatly dovetail into the economic blueprint, Zim-Asset designed to improve the quality of life of the ordinary Zimbabweans in all facets of their existence, be it legal, socio- economic or political.
“The construction of this courthouse falls into the infrastructure and utilities cluster of the programme. Some may view Zim-Asset as a mysterious programme yet it is our home-grown solution to the economic challenges the country is experiencing. It calls for the full utilisation of all possible relationships and linkages in order to grow the economy and to improve the quality of lives of our people,” Acting President Mnangagwa said.
He said courts are at the core of any functioning dispute settlement system and their physical availability in all four corners of the country as a well as accessibility by the litigants serves as a catalyst of economic growth and development while bringing harmony among the people.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to DANIDA which has partnered with JSC to honour the people of Mvuma and indeed the country as a whole by providing much-needed resources for the construction of this court. I wish to express gratitude to the people of Denmark for their strong resolve to ignore the general call by other European countries to withhold aid to Zimbabwe,” the Acting President said.
Mrs Signe Winding Albjerg from the Royal Danish Embassy in Harare said her country invested $18million at a time when the Zimbabwean justice system was teetering at the edge of dysfunction due to lack of basic resources.
JSC secretary Justice Rita Makarau said the new courthouse was unique in that it had holding cells for the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services to protect the dignity of prisoners and safety of officers.
The court house was constructed with financial assistance from the Royal Danish Embassy in Harare and is part of the $18million cash injection into the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) that has resulted in the building, equipping and furnishing of 22 magistrates’ courts — identical to the one in Mvuma — spread all over the country.
Before the opening of the new courthouse, a small circuit court, opened once a week by magistrates from Gweru — was operating from the District Administrator’s Office.
This resulted in a cases piling up and people failing to access justice timely. The state-of-the art structure has two courtrooms, two fully furnished magistrates’ offices, a records room, help desk room, police post, and offices for prosecutors and the prison officers. — @ pchitumba1