via Govt seeks to protect Constitutional Court from abuse | The Herald January 13, 2014
The Zimbabwe Government will soon introduce a raft of measures aimed at dissuading litigants from approaching the Constitutional Court with ulterior motives, a senior official said Monday.
The stand-alone Constitutional Court, the highest in Zimbabwe, was created last year by the new Constitution that was adopted during a referendum in March, 2013.
It has an establishment of nine Judges who are all drawn from the Supreme Court. Officially opening the 2014 legal year, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said consultations on the proposed move would be held soon.
“The Registrar is currently working on a raft of measures that are intended to achieve the swift and smooth movement of Constitutional applications and the Law Society and the Offices of the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General shall be consulted on these before they are implemented,” he said.
“The main aim of the reform is to stop litigants from approaching the court for ulterior motives, with no intention whatsoever of pursuing the matter to finality. The reforms will ensure that all approaches to the Constitutional Court are genuine requests to have a Constitutional injustice redressed and the Constitution respected.”
Chidyausiku said the intended move was also necessitated by the realisation that there were a sizable number of Constitutional cases that remained unprosecuted.
He said of the 30 cases carried over from 2012, an additional 81 new ones were received by the Constitutional Court in 2013, bringing the total to 111 cases.
Of the total, only 24 have been completed.
“The non-prosecution of Constitutional matters has been one of the major factors that has contributed to the backlog in the Constitutional Court. It is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chidyausiku commended work being done by the various courts in clearing cases brought before them. He singled out the Magistrates’ and the Supreme Courts which have gone a long way in clearing their backlogs.
Magistrates’ courts countrywide, for example, have managed to clear their backlogs and were now dealing with current cases. Chidyausiku said the Magistrates’ Courts had completed a total of 85 008 criminal cases in 2013 while the Supreme Court had managed to clear a total of 409 appeals out of a total of 522.
Lack of funding and inadequate staffing was undermining the Judiciary’s ability to deliver its constitutional mandate, he said.-New Ziana