Maputo — The Mozambican court system remains characterized by a huge backlog of cases, according to the figures announced on Friday by the President of the Supreme Court, Ozias Pondja.
Speaking in Maputo at the ceremony opening the 2013 judicial year, Pondja said that, at the beginning of 2012, there were 147,195 cases pending in the country’s courts.
During 2012, a further 105,348 cases entered the courts, and 102,821 cases were tried.
This meant that the backlog increased – 149,722 cases passed from 2012 into this year.
Putting a brave face on this, Pondja said “when we compare the number of cases that entered in the year and the number that were tried, we see the capacity of response of the courts was about 97.6 per cent, which leads us to conclude that the performance n 2012 was very positive”.
But the maths is wrong, because so many of the cases tried were from previous years. If we look at all the cases before the courts, and not just those that entered the system in 2012, it is easy to calculate that the true response capacity was 40.7 per cent.
Pondja admitted, however, that the backlog can only be reduced if the number of cases tried in a year is well in excess of 100 per cent of the new cases that enter the system that year.
Pondja praised the operations of the newly established Higher Appeals Courts, which are taking some of the burden off the Supreme Court. Previously all appeals from decisions of provincial courts rose automatically to the Supreme Court. Now they go to the three regional appeals courts (in Maputo, Beira and Nampula).
Pondja said the Appeals Courts received 1,025 cases in 2012, the first full year of their operation. They heard 479 of these appeals (46.7 per cent). In only three cases were appeals against these decisions made to the Supreme Court. Pondja believed this indicated “generalized acceptance” of the Appeals Courts’ decisions.
In his last speech at such an event, the outgoing chairperson of the Bar Association, Gilberto Correia, attacked corruption in the judiciary, and warned that the system is on “the brink of collapse”.