20 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Only Competent Judges Should Be On the Bench

The grilling of High Court Judges, Justice Charles Hungwe, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, and Labour Court Judges Euna Makamure and Mercy Moya-Matshanga, by the Judicial Service Commissioners during public interviews to select Supreme Court judges, is a welcome development which boosts confidence in public office bearers.

The public interviews exposed inadequacies of those aspiring for higher office, which is necessary for assessing suitability, especially considering that these learned women and men hold the keys to life and death in murder cases.

Their private and public behaviour, professional and social conduct is very important as it has a bearing on the course of the justice delivery system.

People with dubious personal backgrounds should not run for public office as this has repercussions on the quality of their service delivery. Public office bearers are, therefore, expected to be role models, which ultimately leads to good governance.

At the same time, jobs should be awarded to those with adequate intellectual competencies and abilities.

Therefore, the prospective Supreme Court judges who reflected a deficit in this respect should not be rewarded for not only are they a risk to themselves, but to the generality of the public, whether law-abiding or otherwise.

The Judicial Service Commission should be commended for affording the public the right to peek through the gowns of these seemingly emotion-barren super-humans, who it seems, are after all mortal like the next person.

You can imagine the country's courts have been presided over by judges who do not know the elementary issues in their current jobs?

For instance, what confidence does the judge who failed to differentiate between a court application and a court action inspire the nation?

This level of openness, transparency, accountability and scrutiny should be extended to all public entities so that all our public bodies can be rid of chaff.

I also remember that people who were appointed to the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) were put under the microscope by a Parliamentary panel that interviewed them in full view of the public.

The best performers were selected, while bad performers missed out.

In view of the foregoing, we appeal to the powers that be to ensure the universal application of this strategy to all strategic national utilities is put in place so that the best manpower with requisite intellectual depth is deployed to lead the nation.

Therefore, selection to all national boards like Zesa, PSMAS, ZBC, ZMDC, NRZ, CAAZ, Potraz, Zinara, Ema, GMB and Zimche, among others should follow this rigorous process to ensure that they are staffed with people who are tried and tested as opposed to arbitrary nominations based on favouritism and nepotism.

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