15 January 2013

Zimbabwe: No to Poll Violence: Chidyausiku

CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has called for a violence-free election as the country prepares for harmonised polls this year. Justice Chidyausiku also implored community leaders to take necessary steps to ensure their subjects respect the sanctity of life and reduce deaths arising from domestic disputes.

The Chief Justice, who also chairs the Judicial Service Commission, said this while officially opening the 2013 legal year of the High Court.

"We in the judiciary also note that the nation may go to the polls this year. As the nation gears itself up for the elections, we add our voice to those who are calling for free and fair elections that are held in a violence-free atmosphere.

"While the courts stand ready to hear cases relating to the forthcoming elections, it is my fervent hope that litigation, if any, relating to the running of and the results emerging from the polls will be very little."

The Chief Justice noted that out of the 48 criminal cases the High Court would hear this year, 47 were murder cases, an indication that the death penalty appeared not to be bringing the desired results.

He urged community leaders to find ways of reducing the incidence of unnecessary deaths and called for people to value life.

"The reason for resorting to violence in most cases is trivial and society must be trained on other methods of resolving their disputes, domestic, drunken or otherwise," he said.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku called for all members of the legal fraternity such as the police, Zimbabwe Prison Service and the Attorney-General's Office to come together and combat corruption.

"I believe that we must all come together and collectively combat corruption in the justice delivery system if our efforts are to have any impact," he said.

The Chief Justice said there was no need to point fingers at each other, saying the level of corruption of one arm was better than the other in the fight against corruption.

"It does not assist anyone if we in the Judiciary were to compare levels of corruption within the Judiciary against those in the police, prison or Attorney-General's Office and boast that ours is much better," he said.

The Chief Justice bemoaned the poor conditions of service for judicial officers such as judges and presidents of Labour Court.

He said some of the conditions of service such as provision of motor vehicles remained unfulfilled since 2009.

The Chief Justice said the JSC was setting up more magistrates' courts in remote areas such as Murehwa, Mutoko, Tsholotsho and Guruve among others that would be functional soon.

Before his address, there was observance of a minute of silence in honour of High Court Judge, Justice Tedius Karwi and Master of High Court, Mr Charles Nyatanga, both of whom died last year.

The event was attended by Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, his deputy Obert Gutu, Information, Communication and Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and other senior members of the legal fraternity.

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