Zimbabwe’s Top Judge Laments High Staff Turnover

Judicial Services Commission faces operational challenges amid economic crisis

by Victor Adetimilehin

Zimbabwe’s chief justice, Luke Malaba, has expressed concern over the high staff turnover at the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) due to the poor economic situation in the country. He said this was affecting the efficient delivery of justice and the completion of pending projects.

Malaba made the remarks on Monday while opening the 2024 legal year in Harare, where he also highlighted the performance of the courts in 2023 and the achievements and challenges of the JSC.

He said the JSC, which is responsible for the administration of the judiciary and the provision of support services to the courts, was struggling to retain experienced employees who were leaving for better opportunities elsewhere.

“The economic climate adversely affected the remuneration levels for the majority of the members of the Judicial Service. That inevitably led to a high staff turnover, especially in the lower ranks of the organization,” Malaba said.

He appealed to the government to continue supporting the JSC’s initiatives to improve the conditions of service for the staff members involved in the administration of justice in the country.

“Retention of experienced employees is integral to the efficient discharge of the JSC’s constitutional mandate. Whilst the JSC is grateful for the support rendered by Treasury during the period under review, the timeous and consistent disbursement of funds will assist in ensuring effective justice delivery for all, and the completion of the outstanding projects.”


Court Performance and Challenges

Malaba also gave an overview of the court performance in 2023, saying that most courts managed to reduce their huge case backlogs, except for the Labour Court, which saw its backlog rise in the year.

He said the superior courts, comprising the Constitutional, Supreme, High, Labour, and Administrative Courts, cleared 30,179 cases out of 31,560 cases received last year, including 2,127 cases brought forward from 2022.

On the other hand, the criminal courts, comprising the magistrates and regional courts in all the country’s provinces, cleared 102,916 cases out of 111,934 cases presented, plus 12,218 cases brought forward from 2022.

The civil courts completed 102,927 cases last year, out of 103,778 cases presented, including 1,424 cases carried over from 2022.

He congratulated all the judicial officers and court staff for their pleasing work and urged them to maintain high standards of professionalism and integrity.

He also acknowledged the challenges faced by the courts, such as inadequate infrastructure, equipment, vehicles, and security, and said the JSC was working hard to address them.


Constitutionalism and Democracy

Malaba also used the occasion to call on all Zimbabweans to uphold the values and principles of constitutionalism and democracy, as the country marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the current Constitution.

He said the Constitution was the supreme law of the land and the source of all legitimate authority, and that everyone had a duty to obey and respect it.

He also said the attainment of a democratic society that is based on openness, fairness, equality, freedom, and justice depended largely on the willingness of both state and private actors to appreciate the goodness and bindingness of these foundational values and principles.

Malaba stated that the judiciary, as the guardian of the Constitution, would continue to discharge its mandate independently, impartially and diligently, and to uphold the rule of law and the separation of powers.

He also urged the other arms of the state, the executive and the legislature, to respect the independence and finality of the judicial decisions, and to ensure their effective implementation.

He concluded his speech by expressing hope for a better and brighter future for the country, and by wishing everyone a prosperous and peaceful 2024.


Source: The Herald

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