Magistrates shortage hits Zim
THE country has been hit by a shortage of magistrates owing to a recruitment freeze imposed on Government departments.
In an interview on the sidelines of the official opening of the Mvuma courthouse on Wednesday, Chief Magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe said there were 41 vacant posts for magistrates that his office was failing to fill up.
He said Zimbabwe’s judiciary requires magistrates but there were only 209 in post.
Mr Guvamombe said as a result, magistrates’ who are supposed to work for 60 hours a month are now being forced to work for 100 hours.
He said more than 21 magistrates are working in an acting capacity.
“We have a freeze in the chief magistrate’s office. The situation has been like this since 2010 and we are not able to recruit new staff yet we are losing staff through resignations, deaths, retirement and other reasons. We are understaffed,” Mr Guvamombe said.
“We have some courts that are closed. We have also these new court houses constructed to handle 250 two magistrates, but some of them only have a single magistrate.”
The Chief magistrate said plans to decentralise Regional Courts across the country were being hampered by a shortage of staff.
“The decentralisation of the Regional Courts to areas such as Plumtree, Kadoma, Chipinge and Beitbridge has been negatively affected since there are only 25 Regional magistrates in the country. It means we can’t decentralise Regional Courts to bring justice to the people,” said Mr Guvamombe.
He said his office was, however, striving for excellence with limited staff.
Officially opening the Mvuma Court, Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa bemoaned the shortage of magistrates.
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. “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,” Cde Mnangagwa said. — @pchitumba1