via ConCourt struggles to finalise land cases | The Zimbabwean by Edgar Gweshe 13.01.14
The Constitutional Court has made little progress in finalising land cases brought before it since it came into existence in May 2013, Chief Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, has said.
Chidyausiku made the revelations in his speech today during the official opening of the 2014 legal year in the capital.
“At the beginning of the year (2014), there were 30 outstanding Constitutional matters. These were all matters that had been brought under the repealed Lancaster House Constitution.
“I would want at this stage to mention that a sizeable proportion of these cases were land cases brought under the old constitution and in which there has been little movement,” said Chidyausiku.
He said that the non-prosecution of the matters had contributed to a huge backlog in the Constitutional Court, adding that that a raft of reforms to achieve the swift and smooth movement of constitutional applications were on the cards.
As for the overall performance of the Constitutional Court, Chidyausiku said that of a total of 111 cases that were lodged with the court during the course of last year, 24 had been finalised.
Chidyausiku said that the Supreme Court had a case clearance rate of 78 percent, which he said pleasing.
He said that the “substantial imbalance between the inflow and outflow of cases, in favour of the inflow at the High Court” and the Labour Court was a cause for concern.
“Each year, more cases are being filed with the court than the number of judgments and orders coming out of that court,” said Chidyausiku.
He castigated “outrageous arbitral awards” at the Labour Court.
“Most of the appeals that are presented in the Labour Court and ultimately in the Supreme Court are against some of these arbitral awards that at times are outrageous and defy logic.
“Some of these awards bear little relationship to the state of the economy and the salaries that are being paid to the generality of the workforce,” said Chidyausiku.
He bemoaned the scrapping of the retention allowances that government used to pay to magistrates around the country while expressing concern over the reduction of conditions of service for judges.
“We have on other occasions pointed out that it is unconstitutional to reduce the conditions of service for judges while they are still in office. This serious breach of the Constitution persists to this date but, we remain hopeful that our concerns shall be addressed as soon as the fiscal space allows,” said Chidyausiku.
The official opening of the 2014 legal year ran under the theme “Effective Service Delivery” which Chidyausiku said was in line with the courts’ obligation to give “effective service to all litigants that seek justice”.