Source: Chidyausiku issues practice directive | The Herald September 7, 2016
Daniel Nemukuyu : Senior Court Reporter
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has issued a practice directive that empowers registrars of the High Court and Supreme Court to dismiss all dormant or abandoned chamber applications that unnecessarily clog the court system. The head of the judiciary has with immediate effect, also published another directive giving guidance on how the newly-established Masvingo High Court will operate.Litigants are in the habit of abusing the courts with suits that they never prosecute, resulting in the courts recording highly inflated figures in backlogs.
Some even use a court application to threaten people or to extort money from others and later abandon the case after being paid.
Previously, there was no law empowering the court to dismiss such dormant matters.
Yearly, such abandoned cases would be part of the pending cases. By August 31 this year, statistics show that the High Court had 1 666 hanging chamber applications.
The same court has 1 697 opposed chamber applications that are also pending.
In terms of Practice Directive 02 /2016, a judge may raise queries with a view to having the chamber application finalised.
If a query is raised, the litigants have to attend to it within 30 days, failure of which the registrar will dismiss the application.
Queries include asking the parties to file certain documents or to attend to certain issues to allow the completion of the case.
“Any query raised in terms of sub-paragraph (3.1) shall be attended to promptly and in any event, not later than 30 days from the date on which the query was raised.
“Where a query so raised by a judge has not been attended to within the period stipulated in sub-paragraph (3.2), the chamber application shall be dismissed by the Registrar,” reads the Practice Directive.
Meanwhile, Masvingo High Court which opens this month will operate in terms of the High Court Rules applicable to the same courts in Harare and Bulawayo.
In terms of the High Court rules, there is mention of Bulawayo and Harare High Court, but the new station is yet to be included through an amendment of the rules.
The Chief Justice has issued Practice Directive 01 /2016 which reads:
“Now therefore the Chief Justice hereby directs that the practice and procedure to be adopted in the High Court sitting at Harare shall also be the practice and procedure for the High Court sitting at Masvingo.”
The Judicial Service Commission recently deployed Justices Joseph Mafusire and Garainesu Mawadze as resident judges for the newly opened Masvingo High Court.
The duo used to operate from the High Court in Harare.