5 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Constitution Impact On the Justice System

THE new draft constitution scheduled to go for referendum this year contains some issues likely to have an impact on Zimbabwe's justice system, a Cabinet Minister has said. Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa made the remarks yesterday while addressing participants of the Joint Command Staff Course Number 26 at the Zimbabwe Staff College.

Minister Chinamasa said if the draft constitution is adopted in the referendum, Labour Court and Administrative presidents will be placed on par with the High Court judges in terms of rank and conditions of service.

"Under the draft, we have also created a standalone Constitutional Court, but this will not come into being for the next seven years from the day the new Constitution comes into effect," said Minister Chinamasa.

"In the seven years from the effective day, the current Supreme Court with its membership beefed to nine will act as the Constitutional Court."

The proposals in the draft constitution come in the wake of complaints that the Labour Court should enforce its own decisions for the timeous expedition of cases.

The present Labour Act provides that litigants who have won their cases register their awards at the High Court or magistrates' courts for enforcement.

Minister Chinamasa also highlighted the need for the expansion of the judiciary because of the phenomenal increase in litigation.

"There is need for the improvement of their conditions of service and in the future, some decentralization to the provinces," he said.

"I am happy to say that after the past turbulent years, the newly composed High Court and Supreme Court Benches are taking root and growing in confidence."

Minister Chinamasa also gave an overview of the justice system in Zimbabwe from the pre-colonial days to date.

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