10 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Court Backlog Slashed 77 Percent

CHIEF magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe has hailed magistrates countrywide for reducing the criminal cases backlog by 77 percent in one year. When Mr Guvamombe assumed office in September last year, the backlog stood at 45 000 cases, but through hard work by the magistrates and support staff, the figure has been reduced to 10 000.

Addressing magistrates during the annual general meeting for the Magistrates Association of Zimbabwe in Mutare last week, Mr Guvamombe attributed the reduction to dedication, unity and hard work.

"I must start by applauding all of you for the dedication you have shown in your duties which resulted in largely unprecedented achievements by our department.

"You would be pleased to know that at the time I took over as chief magistrate in September 2011, our national criminal cases backlog stood at over 45 000.

"Barely a year later, we have all made tremendous strides and whittled down that backlog to slightly below 10 000 cases," he said.

The chief magistrate said the Judicial Services Commission was proud of the magistrates.

"Be assured that the Judicial Service Commission fully appreciates those efforts and that such hard work will in one way or another be rewarded," he said.

The office of the chief magistrate has set up performance measurement systems.

However, Mr Guvamombe expressed concern over failure by some magistrates to send records for scrutiny and review as required by the law.

He said several magistrates have since been charged for misconduct and corruption-related offences.

Some magistrates, he said, were charged over their personal relationships that were affecting their operations.

Mr Guvamombe warned magistrates against indiscipline and corrupt tendencies, saying the JSC would not hesitate to take disciplinary action against them.

"We will ensure that anyone caught in these nicodemous deals is dealt with firmly," he said.

MAZ elected a new executive led by its president Mr Ignatius Mhene.

He is deputised by Mr Never Katiyo.

Mr Donald Ndirowei was elected secretary-general.

Mr Lovemore Mapiye is the new treasurer while Ms Florence Nago took over as organising secretary.

Mr Godfrey Unzemoyo, Ms Gloria Takundwa, Mr Lazini Ncube and Mr Timion Makunde were elected committee members.

Last month, the chief magistrate's office charged several magistrates for misconduct with two referred for disciplinary hearing before a tribunal to be set up by JSC.

Mr Guvamombe and his team have been visiting provinces to check on the records and the operations.

Several cases of misconduct were unearthed during the exercise.

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