NEWLY appointed Chief Justice (CJ), Prof Ibrahim Juma, yesterday vowed to tackle the key challenges haunting the judiciary and speed up justice delivery to 'wananchi.'
Prof Juma cited timely dispense of justice, public trust on the judiciary and sealing loopholes for corruption as the critical issues he will work hard to address.
The new CJ whom President John Magufuli appointed on Sunday, was speaking few minutes after taking oath of office at the State House in Dar es Salaam.
He promised to ensure that people trust in the judiciary through transparent conduct, inviting anybody with concrete evidence on bribes within the courts to report to responsible authorities, including the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB).
The new CJ revealed that under the ongoing World Bank-funded project, the judiciary intends to put up the high court's high-tech buildings in Kigoma, Morogoro, Mwanza, Mara, Singida and Dodoma regions.
Prof Juma blamed delays in justice delivery on lack of primary and district courts, a challenge he pledged to address squarely during his reign in the judicial system.
"There are 4,000 wards that need Primary Courts, but we have only 976 courts ... Dar es Salaam, for instance, has 89 wards but has only 12 primary courts," he said. At the district level, the CJ said, out of the 139 districts in Tanzania mainland, only 113 districts have district courts.
And regionally, merely 12 out of all the 26 regions in the mainland have High Court buildings. But, the CJ expressed optimism that under continuing reforms in the judiciary, the challenges were likely to get lasting solutions.
He emphasised on independence of the judiciary, allaying fears that the courts were not autonomous. "The judiciary is always independent although we work closely with the executive and legislature," he said, censuring a section of politicians who have been questioning the independence of the courts.
Prof Juma paid tribute to Dr Magufuli for appointing him the eighth CJ after acting on the position for nine months.
"For the period I worked as the acting CJ, I performed all the duties and responsibilities of the CJ and being the first person in the country to act as CJ, I believe I have added something on my CV that can help others who will consult me in future to ask for this experience," he said.
He added that the Head of State was under no obligation to confirm him as CJ because he had the discretional powers to appoint whoever he wished as provided in the constitution.
Minister of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Professor Palamagamba Kabudi, said he had no doubt on the performance record and ability of the new CJ, saying he had known him since he was a law student at the university of Dar es Salaam.
"I knew Ibrahim when I was teaching him Criminal Law and Procedure and Land Law in his first and second years, respectively, at the university," Prof Kabudi said, adding that the new CJ was a man who can suppress his personal interests for the best interest of the nation.
The minister said apart from teaching him, he worked with Prof Juma in various occasions where he exhibited high discipline, boldness, hardworking and competence. He promised to accord him all the necessary support in his capacity as minister.
Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai commended the new appointment, asking the CJ to shun politicians who meddle into judicial issues.
"At some point, you may find politicians in Parliament who overstep their mandate to discuss matters that are a threat to the independence of the judiciary, but the Constitution Minister and Attorney General (AG) have been helping us to remain within our limits," Speaker Ndugai said at the swearing-in ceremony.