By Tichaona Sibanda
22 January 2013
Zimbabweans on Tuesday inched closer to getting a new constitution, after
the three drafters handed in the revised copy of the draft to the COPAC
co-chairmen in Harare.
The draft, described as the ‘final’ document by COPAC co-chairman Douglas
Mwonzora, will be presented to the parliamentary select committee on Monday
for formal adoption, as dictated by the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
“After that we will wait for the opening of Parliament in the first week of
February to present the draft to the legislators,” Mwonzora said.
It is expected that after its presentation to Parliament, a committee of
experts will convene to draft questions that will form the basis on which
Zimbabweans will either vote for, or against the draft constitution in a
The three COPAC drafters who included the amendments proposed by the parties
in the GPA last week were Moses Chinhengo, a former High Court judge,
Priscilla Madzonga, a senior legal practitioner and former drafter in the
Attorney-General’s office, and Brian Crozier, a former director of legal
drafting in the Attorney-General’s office.
Mwonzora said the draft they received Tuesday contains no material or
significant changes to the draft that was produced on 18th July last year,
explaining that the current draft seeks to make things clearer than the
“We have also simplified the language so that people who are not skilled in
law are able to follow this draft. Starting next week, we will prepare the
vernacular copies in all the languages,” added Mwonzora.
He emphasized that the handover of the document on Tuesday has almost closed
any window to make amendments, which had been proposed by those opposed to
“We are aware there are some people who may want to revise this process as a
way to derail the progress. We are no longer interested in any other input,
the people of Zimbabwe spoke, we negotiated and we finished and the draft we
have is now the final draft,” Mwonzora said.
The Nyanga North MP said that Zimbabweans should be ready to “cross over
into Canaan after four years of wondering in the wilderness in search of a
The draft is expected to be made available in about two weeks time.
Vladimir Mzaca | 22 January, 2013 00:31
Zimbabwe could go to the polls as early as June, with the main rival
political parties saying they are ready for them.
"We are ready to go for elections as soon as the constitution-making process
is finished," Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said yesterday.
Officials from the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai, as well as a breakaway faction of the party, concurred.
This followed an announcement on Thursday by Zimbabwe's political leaders
that they have finally agreed on a new constitution after more than two
years of dispute, primarily about the sweeping powers President Robert
No details of the deal were released, but a coalition of pro-democracy
activists said on Friday that the "sticky issues" had been resolved, paving
the way towards the finalisation of the draft.
The Crisis Coalition said a referendum on the document could be held as
early as April.
According to his office, Tsvangirai described the agreement as a defining
moment for the nation's future.
Once the draft is finalised, Mugabe would consult with the Zimbabwe Election
Commission and draw up dates for both the constitutional referendum and the
general election. Douglas Mwonzora - co-chairman of Zimbabwe's parliamentary
commission in charge of the constitution-making process - said the
referendum on the constitution would be likely be held some time between the
end of March and the start of April.
"The date of the elections will be announced by the president any time after
the referendum," said Paul Mangwana, the other constitution-making process
Mugabe can announce the date of the general elections within 30 days of the
new constitution coming into effect, so a June date is possible.
"This is the most likely scenario, because the president has been pushing
for elections since 2010," said a senior Zanu-PF member.
Mugabe yesterday used the funeral of his late vice-president, John Landa
Nkomo, who died last week after a long illness, to call for peace during the
Previous polls have been marred by violence, largely attributed to
Zanu-PF. - Additional reporting by Sapa-AFP-AP
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 00:00
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
ZIMBABWE and South African border authorities were yesterday forced to stop
both vehicular and human traffic after the bridge at the Beitbridge Border
Post was flooded on Sunday night. The border was only open to travellers
after 3am when the waters subsided.
The torrential rains also claimed the lives of three children aged between
four and nine years when the houses they were sleeping in collapsed.
Authorities at the border post were forced to stop traffic after the flooded
Limpopo River left the New Limpopo Bridge inaccessible.
The bridge links Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The bridge was temporarily closed for three hours at midnight on Sunday.
It was only reopened at around 3am when the water had subsided.
Border authorities from both countries had to harmonise traffic control
systems to ensure the safety of motorists.
They also temporarily suspended movement of heavy vehicles over the bridge.
The Old Limpopo Bridge was safe for pedestrians though the situation was
under close monitoring by the authorities.
The children’s deaths bring to five the number of people who have died in
Beitbridge District due to torrential rains that started last week.
Two people drowned, one along Bubi River and another one in a pond in the
Forty-two more people were stranded at Chituripasi Village 10, under Chief
Elsh Matibe’s area.
Their huts were destroyed by heavy rains that hit the area on Saturday and
Authorities had also dispatched an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter to
assist stranded villagers yesterday afternoon.
Beitbridge Civil Protection Unit chairman Mr Simon Muleya said the situation
He said the AFZ helicopter would continue to assess the situation around the
Mr Muleya said they had secured 30 tents for temporary shelter for the
He said some people had been marooned at the Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority camp on Sunday night.
They were, however, rescued by police on Monday morning.
The camp houses close to 80 people.
“The floods have also hit the communities living near the banks of the
Limpopo River, especially at the River Ranch Diamond Mine.
He said two of the deceased children, a five-year-old and his nine-year-old
colleague died at Mawale Village, some 20km east of Beitbridge town.
The bedroom hut, which had four occupants, collapsed due to the incessant
He said the third victim, a four-year-old child died in the same manner at
“The situation is bad. At the moment we are looking at ways of assisting the
victims as a matter of urgency.
“We have 19 adults and 24 children who have sought refuge at Tshituripasi
Police Post after their 14 homes were destroyed by the heavy rains.
“It is also difficult to go there by road since the link roads have been
badly damaged while some bridges have been swept away.”
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Services Department yesterday said the heavy
rains would subside starting tomorrow up to Saturday.
“During this period, most of the rains should be confined mainly to the
Mashonaland Provinces, Harare, and the North of Manicaland.”
The Met Dept, however, said the rains would increase from Sunday onwards.
POLICE say at least 86 people have drowned and 38 others killed by lightning since the onset of the rainy season in September last year.
Figures released by the ZRP on Monday showed Manicaland had the highest number of deaths from drowning – 18 – followed by Masvingo with 13 deaths.
At least 12 people died after being struck by lightning in Masvingo, one more than the Midlands which accounted for 11 deaths.
Bulawayo recorded the lowest number of deaths from drowning with one case reported – that of a Grade Seven pupil at Hugh Beadle Primary School who was swept away by the Mazayi River on her way back from school on January 15.
Forecasters are warning that low-lying areas are at a risk of flooding as the rains continue to pound the country, including the parched Matabeleland provinces which have seen non-stop rains for nearly a week.
National police spokesman Superintendent Andrew Phiri said: “Members of public must desist from crossing flooded rivers whether on foot or in vehicles as vehicles are also in danger of stalling in the middle of rivers resulting in the death of passengers.”
The Civil Protection Unit has warned of a flooding crisis in Beitbridge after heavy rains saw the border post temporarily closed at 3AM on Sunday when the Limpopo River’s tide reached bridge level.
Three people have died in Beitbridge from drowning, while over 50 homes are said to have been destroyed in the area.
- click to see video
By Alex Bell
22 January 2013
Ongoing heavy rainfall continues to cause chaos across the country, leading
to the closure of the Beitbridge border over the weekend and the rescue by
helicopter of stranded villagers.
A helicopter from the Air Force was dispatched on Monday to rescue villagers
in the Binga district, where flooding has washed away several homes.
SW Radio Africa’s correspondent Lionel Saungweme reported on Tuesday that 16
people from the Kalungwizi area were rescued on Monday after they were
caught out by flash floods. He said most villagers had evacuated the area
but some had stayed to try and tend their crops.
“There are reports yet of deaths. 16 people were airlifted out of the area.
Local councillors are now trying to put together a welfare bundle to help
the villagers,” Saungweme reported.
Flooding has also brought misery to the Beitbridge district, where over the
weekend at least 42 more people were stranded at Chituripasi Village. An Air
Force helicopter was sent to rescue the villagers, who are now living in
tents provided by the Beitbridge Civil Protection Unit (CPU).
Three children have also died as a result of the floods. Two of the deceased
children, aged five and nine, died at Mawale Village, some 20km east of
Beitbridge town. They were trapped when the hut they were in collapsed in
the rain. A third child aged four reportedly died in similar circumstances
at Tshituripasi, according to the CPU.
The CPU has also said that 19 adults and 24 children have sought refuge at
Tshituripasi Police Post after their 14 homes were destroyed by the rains.
Meanwhile the Beitbridge border was temporarily closed on Sunday night
because of flood water. It was only reopened on Monday.
By Violet Gonda
22 January 2013
A representative of the ZimRights management board is to report to Harare
police Wednesday, to answer questions regarding the ongoing fraud case
against the organization.
The police have so far charged the ZimRights boss Okay Machisa and two
others with fraud, and they are also accused of forgery in their individual
capacity. But the police have now added charges against the organization
One of the ZimRights board members Nunurai Jena told SW Radio Africa the
organization has been summoned to Harare Central Police Station and he will
report to the Law and Order Section to represent them.
It is not clear exactly what ZimRights is being accused of doing, but the
police allege that the organization was involved in an illegal voter
registration exercise. They are also accused of ‘conspiracy to commit fraud’
and publishing ‘falsehoods prejudicial to the state’.
Jena said on Tuesday that they welcome the police investigations and
ZimRights will cooperate, adding that the organization does not support any
“As a board we condemn the commission of crime in whatever form and the
board disassociates itself from the alleged criminal activities and if
anything ever happened in that manner, as alleged by the state, such was
done outside the mandate and objectives of the organizations,” Jena said.
Meanwhile, a High Court judge postponed Machisa’s bail hearing on Tuesday to
Thursday. ZimRights Programs Manager Cynthia Manjoro said the case could not
be heard on Tuesday because the state appointed a new prosecutor, Edmore
Nyazamba, “who claimed that he wanted some time to acquaint himself with the
The rights group said the other accused persons (chairperson for Highfields
Dorcas Shereni and the organisation’s Education and Programmes Officer Leo
Chamahwinya) are likely to spend fourteen more days behind bars after a
Harare magistrate on Monday remanded them in custody to 4 February, citing
the need to give the state more time to conduct investigations. ZimRights
said this was despite the defence counsel having submitted lengthy and
detailed arguments warranting the release of the two.
Jena said his organization is law abiding and is waiting for the court
process to be concluded and the board will carry out its own internal
investigations to unearth the truth facts of the allegations at
“Now we are appealing to the state to expedite the prosecution of this
matter to conclusion rather than to make these guys to wait and wait and
wait. I think it’s not proper,” Jena added.
By Alex Bell
22 January 2013
More Zimbabwean children have been found in South Africa after they were
smuggled across the border, just over a month after a Bulawayo man was
imprisoned for smuggling 17 other kids.
Six Zimbabwean children were found at the Swartkop border gate in South
Africa on Monday. According to local police two Somali men were found with
the children, trying to transport them illegally into the country.
The six children are among 23 other Zimbabwean youngsters that South African
authorities have placed at welfare centres across the country in recent
Last year a 33 year old Bulawayo man called Never Tshuma was caught in South
Africa with 17 undocumented children, and has since been sentenced to eight
months in prison. In that case, the parents of the 17 children had paid
Tshuma to transport their children to South Africa, so they could be
Diana Zimbudzana from the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum in South Africa told SW
Radio Africa on Tuesday that the smuggling of children across the border is
an ongoing problem, mainly because of the ‘limbo’ situation created by the
South African government.
“Some Zimbabweans have been able to get permits here (in South Africa), but
it is not always clear what happens with their children. Undocumented
children are left in limbo,” Zimbudzana said.
She also warned that not all children are being smuggled to see their
parents, and that many are targeted by illegal gangs that are active along
the borders. She said border crossing is a danger for children, particularly
if they are travelling without their parents.
Recent statistics have indicated that rape cases involving Zimbabwean
children are increasing, which Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo warned was a
real threat to children being smuggled. She said children are increasingly
vulnerable in Zimbabwe, because of the breakdown of traditional family
“There is a gap that has been created by political crises and it is a gap in
the family units. We have lost out humanity and we are sentencing a
generation to death,” Khumalo said.
She added: “We as a society need to change and all be the custodians of our
nations children. Plus, we need to create a conducive social, economic and
political environment so people can get jobs and family units can be
By Tererai Karimakwenda
22 January 2013
Bulawayo residents on Monday succeeded in obtaining a court order blocking
the Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, from using his powers to
appoint a ‘special interest’ councillor in Bulawayo.
According to the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA), Chombo
instructed the City Council in late November to appoint Fidelis Fengu as a
‘special interest’ councillor. The minister had made the decision without
consulting any stakeholders in the city, and the BPRA has accused him of
appointing Fengu to represent his personal interests and not those of the
Then last week, Chombo allegedly wrote to the City Council threatening to
fire the Mayor and Town Clerk if Fengu was not sworn in by Monday. The
Monday deadline moved the residents to act, and they filed an urgent
application with the Council to stop the appointment.
“The appointed councillor, Fengu, was representing the special interests of
Minister Chombo under the guise of representing people living with
disabilities. We managed to argue that case in court and won,” said Roderick
Fayayo, coordinator for the BPRA.
He added: “We have a special councillor here in Bulawayo who is disabled. He
uses a wheelchair. Does Minister Chombo not think that he can represent the
disabled? If a special interest councillor is to be appointed, they should
represent the special interests of the residents of Bulawayo.”
Fayayo explained that this is not the first time that Bulawayo residents
have blocked Minister Chombo from trying to appoint councillors of his
choice, without consulting any other stakeholders.
“Immediately after the 2008 harmonised elections he appointed eight ‘special
interest councillors’ and apparently all of them had lost in the election.
We went to court and won. After that he didn’t say anything and we don’t
expect to hear from him,” Fayayo said.
In addition, the term of office for the current councillors comes to an end
in just eight weeks. Fayayo questioned the wisdom in appointing any
councillor with such little time left for them to make any difference.
Chombo has in the past managed to force the appointment of councillors in
several municipalities, including Harare, Chitungwiza, Mutare and Kwekwe. In
Harare he suspended councillors who had investigated illegal land deals the
Minister was linked to. And in Mutare, he suspended the Mayor and other
MDC-T officials who were calling for an independent audit.
Fayayo said in terms of the law, the Urban Councils Act gives Chombo the
power to appoint these special interest councillors, but consultations are
In a statement, the Bulawayo Residents expressed concerns over the Urban
Council’s Act, saying it invests too much power in the Local Government
Minister by allowing him “too much leeway to undemocratically dictate the
conduct of local authorities without consulting residents.”
The group said “special interest councillors should not be imposed by a
Minister, but should be selected by the residents in a democratic manner.”
Sapa-AP | 22 January, 2013 17:25
Police in Zimbabwe say they are investigating a massive explosion at a
tribal sorcerer's house outside the capital, Harare.
Police officials said Tuesday the blast killed five people.
The sorcerer, often known in the West as a witchdoctor, and a man seeking to
improve his failing finances, were among the dead, witnesses said.
The explosion damaged 12 nearby houses in the Chitungwiza township.
Witnesses said crowds began sprinkling salt on nearby streets and sidewalks
afterward, a traditional belief to ward off evil spirits.
Army bomb disposal experts told neighbors they found no remnants of a bomb
or gasoline or gas containers.
In Zimbabwe superstition, sorcerers can use lightning, common during current
rain storms, to eradicate enemies. Neighbors told reporters they feared a
"lightning manufacturing process" was being carried out Monday.
on January 22, 2013 at 5:28 am
By Michael Chideme
FIVE people including a traditional healer died in a mysterious blast in
Zengeza 2, Chitungwiza yesterday afternoon. The bodies of the dead were
burnt while their limbs were strewn all over the place covering a distance
of up to 60 metres.
While the bodies seemed to have been burnt, there was no fire from the
blast, which some people suspected could have been lightning. Body parts
like arms, fingers, and pieces of flesh were picked from rooftops and from
Among the five is a commuter omnibus operator identified as Clever
Kamunzeya, who was consulting the traditional healer — popularly known as
Sekuru Shumba — Speakmore Mandere (24) who came from Chiweshe.
A seven-month-old baby Kelly Chimina who was sleeping in one of the rooms at
the house also died in the blast. Her mother was a tenant at the property.
Two other people who died were not immediately identified. Identity
particulars were picked from the scene but no one could verify whether they
belonged to the dead. Three other people were seriously injured while others
with minor injuries were also taken to Chitungwiza General Hospital.
The traditional healer had been given a notice to vacate the property by
month-end after the property owner expressed reservations over his
traditional healing. More than 12 houses were destroyed in the blast that
witnesses said shook properties as far away as a kilometre.
Walls, roofs and windows were destroyed while property worth several
thousands of American dollars was also lost. By early evening people with
destroyed houses were seeking refuge from relatives and friends while those
returning from work were shocked to see the destruction that had occurred.
More than 500 people gathered at the scene with police and the army
cordoning off the area to investigate the cause of the blast. Witnesses said
Mr Kamunzeya whose damaged vehicle was parked could have been consulting the
healer. He was in the company of two women who were severely injured in the
A neighbour whose house was badly damaged said he heard a huge blast and
went out to investigate. But he ran away the moment he noticed the damage.
Mr Edmore Mikitayo said the blast caused huge panic that saw some people
running from their homes.
Others linked the blast to a marital problem involving a woman who was
staying with the traditional healer. It is believed she had sought a peace
order against her husband and had eloped to the n’anga.
Officer-in-charge of St Mary’s police Inspector Daniel Badza said
investigations were in progress to ascertain the cause of the blast. He
referred further questions to his superiors at the scene who declined
A nephew of the healer Mr Emmanuel Chinwadzimba said his uncle possessed
supernatural powers. He said their family believed that he had a mermaid
spirit, having been trained by one when he was a young boy. Residents
assisted in retrieving some of the body parts.
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 11:48
HARARE - Jabulani Nkomo, son of the late Vice President John Landa Nkomo,
has lavished praise on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for the good
relationship the premier enjoyed with his father.
Delivering a speech at the national Heroes Acre yesterday, Jabulani said the
two worked closely in spite of their different political affiliations.
Part of the crowd consisting Zanu PF supporters who had mocked the MDC
leader during salutations were silenced by Jabulani’s words, who reminded
them that his father was a man of peace, unity and integrity.
“Ironically your Excellency, one of the ministries that he was leading was
the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare where he had to deal with one ZCTU
leader by the name of Morgan Tsvangirai,” he said explaining to the crowd
how his father was a “problem solver”.
“I am aware he used to call my father Mudhara John, isn’t that so?,” turning
to Tsvangirai for confirmation.
Tsvangirai was the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions’ leader before he
founded the MDC in 1999.
Jabulani said this showed how his father had good relations with colleagues
irrespective of political differences.
“I remember again, the Prime Minister agreed to attend my father’s elevation
function to the presidency because it was John Nkomo’s.
“In his speech, he went on to reveal how close they worked together. He said
it was his first ever time to attend a type of party where the leader of one
political party attends a function for an opposition member,” Jabulani
“Our father brought sworn enemies to eat, drink and merry together,”
referring to the long rivalry that existed between Tsvangirai and President
Nkomo succumbed to cancer last week on January 17.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed the government of national unity in 2009 after
a disputed 2008 presidential run-off election.
By Richard Chidza, Staff Writer
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 11:48
HARARE - An electrical glitch and a huge downpour dampened President Robert
Mugabe’s peace speech at the burial of national hero and late Vice President
John Nkomo yesterday.
Mugabe’s speech, beamed live on State TV, was blacked out by a power outage
that seemed to irritate the veteran ruler. As soon as power was restored,
Mugabe remarked: “Pasi nacho.”
Zimbabwe has been reeling under intermittent power blackouts because of
shortages of electricity.
As if the brief outage was not enough, suddenly it began raining midway
through the 88-year-old leader’s speech, with many dashing for cover from
the grandstand at the shrine that is exposed to the elements.
“Mvura haizezese kana musina kufudza mombe munotiza, (You can’t be scared of
the rains, you were never herdboys?)” Mugabe joked.
In a sombre speech devoid of belligerent rhetoric synonymous with his
speeches at the national shrine, Mugabe narrated Nkomo’s long history, his
trials and tribulations and how he came to be his trusted lieutenant.
He called for peaceful elections saying it is what the late Nkomo would have
“Ironically he passed away on the day the Global Political Agreement (GPA)
resolved the issues that had been an impediment to the success of our
constitution- making process, issues that had threatened to divide our
national interests. We want peaceful elections,” the former guerrilla leader
Zimbabwe is expected this year to hold a referendum on a new Constitution,
and a fresh poll to choose a new president, parliament and local
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 00:00
Harare City Council has created an emergency water taskforce headed by town
clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi dubbed 24/7. The taskforce’s vision is to ensure
uninterrupted water supply in Harare. Dr Mahachi
confirmed the setting up of two multidisciplinary teams drawing officials
from a number of city departments.
The city is failing to supply adequate water to residents. Close to 60
percent of all water pumped from Morton Jaffray and Prince Edward Water
Treatment Plants is lost through leaks. At the same time over 70 000
households enjoy free water as they are illegally connected and not on the
city billing list.
“Our aim is to improve on water delivery. There is progress that has been
registered under the present set-up but we want a quantum leap in water
delivery,” he said.
Last week Dr Mahachi assumed management of the amenities department
(formerly waste management).
He divided the city into eight zones whose team leaders report to him on a
Under the new set-up that seeks to bring teamwork in the operations of
council there would be two teams.
Harare wastewater manager Eng Simon Muserere heads the technical team
composed of water engineers, officials from city health, treasury, urban
planning and human capital.
The city public relations manager Mr Leslie Gwindi is part of the team.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) is appalled by the arrest and
detention of the Union’s Secretary General Tryvine Musokeri, Vice President
Believe Tevera and midlands provincial chairperson Rudo Rwapedza by Harare
Polytechnic security personnel today (21 January) in the afternoon. They
were arrested for speaking to students.
After addressing a multitude of students at an open space, the trio was
misled by security personnel — who probably feared being attacked by
students if they arrested their leaders in front of them– into believing
that they were being taken to the Principal’s office to have a meeting with
him but upon arrival the trio was locked inside the office whilst the
security went to get re-enforcements.
According to unconfirmed reports Musokeri, Tevera and Rwapedza have since
been released but this information is still to be verified.
The Zinasu leadership was addressing students on the failure of the GNU to
provide students with grants and loans. The president Pride Mkono and the
gender Secretary Coezzet Chirinda were among those who addressed students.
During her address, Coezzet Chirinda bemoaned the fact that her fellow
female students were being left with no choice but to trade sexual favours
for material gain as a means of getting by. ‘This problem will disappear if
grants and loans are availed to students’ said Chirinda.
Believe Tevera told the gathered students that grants and loans are the
solution to most of their problems. ‘Loans and grants would make our
schooling much smother as we would have less problems to deal with’ said
Last week, Zinasu made efforts to get information on grants and loans from
the ministry of higher and tertiary education and the ministry of Finance to
This failure to get information coupled with the fact that grants and loans
have not yet been availed to students though many tertiary institutions have
opened, mainly teachers’ colleges and Polytechnics, has led the Union to
believe that the scheme is a hoax mentioned in the national budget every
year but is never implemented.
Since the year 2011, grants and loans have been provided for in the national
budget but up to now no student has received a single cent from the scheme.
Zinasu is tired of the GNU’s shenanigans, chicanery and tomfoolery.
The students of Zimbabwe demand their grants and loans now.
For two years the GNU hoodwinked students into believing that they were
going to receive grants and loans when in actual fact they would not.
This time around we will not be taken for a ride.
Zinasu is going to make good on its threat to mobilize students for mass
action if grants and loans are not delivered.
As is evidenced by the scores of students who took time away from their
studies to be addressed by the Zinasu leadership at Harare Polytechnic
today, students are truly concerned about the failure of the government to
provide them with grants and loans. They are on standby for action.
With this in mind, the GNU is hereby given an ultimatum to disburse grants
and loans to students by the 30th of March 2013. Failure to meet the demands
of this ultimatum will result in student mass action. Aluta Continua!!!!!
Zinasu Information Department
COURT WATCH 1/2013
[21st January 2013]
Supreme Court, High Court, Labour Court Terms Started 14th January
Ceremonies to Mark Start of 2013 Legal Year
The start of the 2013 judicial year on Monday 14th January was marked by the customary ceremonies in the High Court. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku presided in Harare, Judge-President George Chiweshe in Bulawayo.
Chief Justice’s Speech in Harare High Court
The Chief Justice opened his speech by saying this was his yearly opportunity to address not only the judiciary but also the nation at large. It was also an opportunity to express views which cannot appropriately be expressed in judgments. He said that the year had seen many challenges, principally lack of resources, and the Judicial Service Commission would continue to tackle these during the coming year, but that rather than stressing these problems he proposed surveying the judiciary’s achievements during 2012. [Speech available from firstname.lastname@example.org. An annexure to the speech gives comparative statistics of court performance for 2011 and 2012.]
Survey of Achievements
Magistrates courts 2012 had seen a dramatic reduction in the backlog of cases – from a backlog of 45 000 there are now 10 000 [still far too many]. This had been achieved by re-opening all circuit courts and hard work by magistrates, the majority of whom had achieved or exceeded the standard minimum requirement of 60 court hours per month. Efforts to improve court-rooms had started to bear results with pre-fabricated court buildings under construction in Murehwa, Guruve, Mutoko and Tsholotsho. The Law Society had partnered the Judicial Service Commission in providing training and development programmes for magistrates.
Labour Court Two additional presidents of the Labour Court had been appointed during the year, bringing the total number up to 12. The Chief Justice pointed out that the workload of the Labour Court had reached “unmanageable” proportions because the “one-stop shop” nature of the court’s jurisdiction meant it had to cater for all labour disputes, ranging from cases involving one employee and a small amount of money, to major labour disputes involving millions of dollars and potential repercussions for the national economy. A restructuring of the court that recognised this was necessary. Also needed were more suitable premises for the Labour Court, not only in Harare, but also in the other centres in which it operates.
High Court Five new High Court judges were appointed during 2012 – Justices Zhou, Mafusire, Mangota, Takuva and Chigumba. This was in recognition of the court’s ever-increasing workload. Cases filed increased from 12 758 in 2011 to 14592 in 2012, but the rate of increase seemed to be slowing down towards year-end, perhaps as a result of September’s substantial increase in the civil jurisdiction of the magistrates courts.
High Court’s new electronic case-tracking system A major positive development had been the successful development of an electronic case-tracking system in the civil registry of the High Court at Harare. Not only did this allow the Chief Justice and the Judge-President to be kept informed on a regular basis of the number of cases filed in the High Court and movement or lack of it in these cases. It was also “bad news for unethical lawyers and litigants”, who would no longer be able to get registry clerks, for a fee, to backdate pleadings or destroy or mislay key documents.
Murder cases, violence and the death penalty After referring to the fact that in most of the seemingly mindless murders that the High Court tries day in and day out, the death resulted from a dispute over a trivial issue that could have been resolved otherwise, the Chief Justice commented that the existence of the death penalty on its own appears not to be bringing in the desired result, that of deterring killing. There must, he said, be “a way of making our people respect the sanctity of human life that lies outside the court system.” He called on community leaders to devise methods of minimising the incidence of unnecessary deaths.
Comments on the justice delivery system
Importance of cooperation
Expressing the judiciary’s gratitude to the Law Society of Zimbabwe, the office of the Attorney-General, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Prison Service for their contribution to justice delivery, the Chief Justice observed: “It is through our joint efforts and cooperation that the justice delivery system performs in a way that benefits our people. The judiciary on its own cannot deliver justice to the people of Zimbabwe without your combined efforts.” This meant, he said, that “we must all adopt the attitude that in the system, each office is like in the biblical sense, its brother’s keeper. The faults of the prosecutor can be visited on the magistrate and vice versa. The public expects us all not only to perform as one body but they hold all of us accountable if a case drags on without end or if there is a perception that justice in the matter has been compromised or purchased.”
Corruption Stakeholders should, the Chief Justice went on, adopt the same approach towards corruption within the justice delivery system. “Members of the Law Society should not point fingers at us, laugh or shake their heads at the judiciary on account of our corrupt officials. Neither should the Police nor the Prison Service. In turn, it does not assist anyone if we in the judiciary were to compare the levels of corruption within the judiciary against those in the Police, Prisons or Attorney-General’s Office and boast that ours is much better. One corrupt official in the justice delivery chain taints the entire system and the result coming out of that system no matter how innocent the other players are. Therefore, individual or territorial efforts by each of our offices to combat corruption are unlikely to yield results. I believe that we must all come together and collectively combat corruption in the justice delivery system if our efforts are to have any impact.”
Forthcoming elections Noting that the nation may go to the polls this year, the Chief Justice added the judiciary’s voice “to those calling for free and fair elections that are held in a violence-free atmosphere”.
Judge-President’s Speech in Bulawayo High Court
Opening proceedings in Bulawayo, Judge-President Chiweshe referred to several problems.
Unsatisfactory disposal rate for criminal trials in Bulawayo Many of these did not take off because key witnesses could not be located. Of 74 criminal trials set down in the court only 19 had been completed by year-end, which compared unfavourably with the 54 trials completed at the Gweru and Hwange circuits presided over by Bulawayo judges.
Increase in civil cases Justice Chiweshe also mentioned the inundation of the High Court by civil cases and the substantial increase in divorce cases. He suggested that a partial solution might be to have an intermediate court between the High Court and the magistracy to take up some of the burden – as the regional magistrates courts had done in criminal cases.
Misuse of criminal and civil appeal process
Justice Chiweshe voiced his concern that in many appeals against criminal convictions and gaol sentences, after bail is granted pending the appeal, the appeals are not then pursued; thus suggesting the appeals were filed for the sole purpose of securing bail and staying out of gaol, rather with any genuine hope of being acquitted or more leniently treated by the appeal court. Similarly in civil cases there were appeals which were not pursued which he said, suggested they were filed purely for purposes of delaying execution of judgment against the appellant. For example of 121 notices of appeal in civil cases all but 36 remained unactioned. He said corrective measures would be put in place “to stop this rot” without elaborating on what these measure could be.
[Comment: These measures would have to be carefully thought out. The right to appeal is one of the cornerstones of the justice system. And, it is in fact for the courts to decide in a criminal case whether or not to grant bail pending hearing of an appeal, and to impose appropriate conditions of bail to ensure that the appellant will serve his or her sentence if the appeal is unsuccessful. Also in a criminal case where an appeal is inexcusably delayed by the appellant, the prosecution has the right to ask the court to strike it off the court roll. Similarly, if a civil appeal is not genuine and merely a delaying tactic, and is not pursued, the other party may apply to have it struck off the court roll and for the appellant to be punished by having to pay wasted legal costs. The point must be made, also, that frequently the reason for delay in pursuing an appeal is the clerk of court’s inability to provide the court record promptly, which cannot be blamed on the appellant, and it is this that the justice system needs to rectify] [Please note: full text of Justice Chiweshe’s speech NOT yet available]
Chief Magistrate’s Speech Reviewing 2012
Chief Magistrate Misrod Guvamombe addressed the annual general meeting of the Magistrates Association in the Bvumba on 30th November. Understandably he started his speech by applauding the magistracy’s success in reducing the national backlog of criminal cases in magistrates courts, now down to 10 000 from over 45 000 in September 2011. [Speech available from email@example.com]
Other noteworthy aspects of the speech were:
Performance standards for magistrates Under recently introduced performance management systems each magistrate must sit in court for at least 60 hours per month and must keep down the number of his or her part-heard cases at any one time to 15 in regional magistrates courts and 10 in all other magistrates courts.
Submission of criminal cases for appeal/review/scrutiny Mr Guvamombe expressed concern over magistrates shirking their responsibility under the rules of court to ensure that, if a decision is appealed, all formalities are observed and the case record promptly submitted to the appeal court.
Also causing concern was the failure by some magistrates, including very senior ones, to observe their statutory obligations to send certain criminal records for automatic scrutiny in the regional court or review by a High Court judge; some magistrates had been dismissed for failure to do this. [Note: Under sections 57 and 58 of the Magistrates Court Act every gaol sentence of more than 12 months or a fine of more than $300 must be “reviewed” by a High Court judge, and every gaol sentence between 3 and 12 months, or a fine between $100 and $300, must be “scrutinised” by a regional magistrate. The purpose of this review or scrutiny is to check whether the proceedings are “in accordance with real and substantial justice”; and if they were not, to allow a judge to take appropriate action, ranging from setting aside a conviction to reducing gaol sentence or fine.]
Misconduct and unacceptable private lives Although the majority of magistrates had been professional and executed their duties commendably, several magistrates had been charged with misconduct during 2012 and some dismissed, for offences ranging from corruption to dereliction of duty. There had also been cases of both male and female magistrates whose personal relationships had triggered complaints and resulted in misconduct charges. Mr Guvamombe advised magistrates as follows: “The profession that you chose is a conservative profession. Your social relationships must be beyond reproach. As long as your private life is affecting or has the potential to affect your work, it ceases to be private.”
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