via Seeking redress against Judicial Officers in terms of Statutory Instrument 107 of 2012 March 14, 2014 by William Eckem Sithole
In a previous article, I requested any member of society who has knowledge, to share with the public, the procedure to be followed by a party who has been hurt by the actions of a Judicial Officer acting out of sync with his oath of judicial office. I am happy to announce that a patriot did respond. To our patriot, who chose to remain anonymous, thank you.
The lawmaker promulgated the Judicial Service (Code of Ethics) Regulations, 2012, under Statutory Instrument 107 of 2012. In its preamble, the above Code of Ethics states “AND WHEREAS the Constitution provides for the impeachment of a judicial officer, it is recognized that no formal complaints mechanism is provided to deal with complaints about judicial officers falling short of impeachable conduct”.
This part, when read in conjunction with Section 15 of The Judicial Service Act [Chapter 7:18], which states “Subject to the Constitution, this Act or any other enactment, any case involving misconduct or suspected misconduct on the part of a member of the Judicial Service shall be investigated, adjudicated upon and, where appropriate, punished by the Commission”, is a sad indictment on our Judicial Officers.
The mere fact that the Lawmaker, in his wisdom, had to make provision for disciplining Judicial Officers is an acknowledgement and testimony to the fact that our Judicial Officers have allowed themselves to be compromised. and hence could not be trusted to be given total independence as is due to them.
A puzzle I can not fathom is the fact that the Executive is many a time accused of arm-twisting the Judiciary, in the process, compromising the same. Yet, it is the Executive that initiated, and guided debate in Parliament and Senate that led to the promulgation of the Judicial Service Act [Chapter7:18] and all subsidiary legislation under it.
In my humble view, this is the price the Judiciary has to pay for allowing themselves to be compromised. In the eyes of the voting public, the Judiciary is viewed with suspicion, for, by failing/ refusing to apply the laws of the Republic, it is seen as reversing the gains of the war of liberation, through the unsound judgements that offend the letter and spirit of the constitution. Hence, the Judiciary must be treated as junior to the other arms of state, needing strict regulations to guide them. Thus, we, the voting public owe a debt of gratitude to the Lawmaker for providing us with the means to seek redress against the ‘evil’ judiciary.
Instead of seeing the writing on the wall and jealously guarding its independence as provided for in the Constitution, the Judiciary allows itself to be used to hurt people by delaying and denying justice. It does not matter how the Courts try to dress it up, if they cause an injustice, they are responsible for tearing the social fabric of our beloved society and as such, must be exposed and shamed.
This, we must do, to protect those other members of the Judiciary who have remained true to their oath of office, for, those corrupt elements will not rest until the entire bench is compromised, as a protective measure. Our Courts exist to do justice and this justice is the by-product of the diligent application of the laws of the land. Period.
The Code of Ethics looks at the conduct of Judicial Officers on and off the bench, calling all Officers to conduct themselves to the highest standards of personal and professional behaviour. For example, it would be improper behaviour for a married judge to have a girlfriend.
While this may be considered a petty issue by some, in the eyes of the Judicial Service Commission, this is a serious offence, for Judicial Officers are Marriage Officers as well as have the power to grant divorces, so, the Judicial Officer can not perform such a task, if he himself has dirty hands.
It is even worse when a Judicial Officer causes a party to the proceedings before him or her an injustice. Whether the injustice is an undue delay in finalising the matter, partiality, failure to possess the knowledge and skill in applying the law, it is immaterial, the Judicial Officer must be dragged before a tribunal of his peers and answer. If found guilty, the ultimate sanctions is dishonourable discharge from his/ her office.
The above provisions have been embedded into our Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment [Number 20] Act and codified in the Code of Ethics [Statutory Instrument 107 of 2012]. They signify the Lawmaker’s resolve to hold the Judiciary to account for deviations from the high standards expected the world over, of judicial officers, on and off the bench.
We as litigants must play our part. The Lawmaker can only put the infrastructure in place. But, we must use it when we have to. Muttering in the dark and bad-mouthing the judiciary is a display of cowardice.
Let us stand by our convictions. If an injustice was done to you, you have recourse with the Constitutional Court. Furthermore, the Judicial Service Commission is on stand-by to help you.
Civic Service Organisations must go on outreach programs, educating people on how to seek redress from Judicial misdemeanors. Yes, our Civic Service Organisations are doing a good job conscientising people about gay rights, women abuse, animal cruelty and the like.
You would only think human rights are violated by the state, when policeman beat up defenceless women. Far greater Human rights abuses are being committed at the workplace. Employees are losing their jobs wrongfully and unlawfully. When they approach the Labour Court, they are done in by an uncaring judiciary that hunts with the hounds and at the same time runs with the hares.
Conscientise the workers about the protection they have, should judges of the Labour Court deviate from the straight and narrow. Or is our Civic Society keeping quiet because they too, as employers are busy ripping off their workers. Or are they being funded by the corporates, such that they are dancing to the pipers’ tune.
Companies are being siezed unlawfully and such transactions facilitated by greasing a few palms, when the owner uses the Courts to try and assert his rights. Many a time, this is done outside the confines of the law. This causes multiple losses to the country.
To begin with, we lose entrepreneurs who have the capacity to create jobs for our unemployed population. Second, we suffer a reputational damage as a country, drying up lines of credit, losing contracts and markets and curtailing Foreign Direct Investments. Third, the workers lose their jobs. The person who muscles his way into the company will quickly sell off the assets of the company and whatever finished goods were available, pocket the money and look for another company to strip. And the clever judicial officer who helped buy time for the Asset Stripper, remains with an offence that must be prosecuted for the greater good of society.
If people did not know of how to do it, the Lawmaker has done the job for you and codified how a judicial officer can be brought to book.
The onus now rests on you to approach the relevant authorities and file your claim. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I am excited, for, now I can see a path opening up and leading into a highway to assist me make good my losses while at the same time helping us get rid of the chancers who sneaked onto the bench and are destroying our national institutions.
Share the message and take action. Zimbabwe demands that of you. If you chose to remain silent, you will allow others to squander your children’s inheritance. I would rather fight and die with honour than live miserably on my knees.
And to our Judicial Officers who sold their offices to the corrupters for a few pieces of silver. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Your dirty past is about to catch up with you.
William Eckem Sithole is a victim of justice gone to the dogs. He is currently based in South Africa. He can be contacted on e-mail at email@example.com