via Govt to decentralise the High Court – NewZimbabwe 11/01/2016
GOVERNMENT is moving ahead with plans to decentralise the High Court, to other parts of the country, as a way of strengthening the justice delivery system.
The High Court currently sits in the capital Harare and in Bulawayo, with circuits held in other major towns and in cities in the country.
Presiding over the official opening of the 2016 legal year at the Bulawayo High Court, Monday, Judge President George Chiweshe, said they will be upgrading the circuits into fully fledged High Court stations.
“As you may be aware by now we have plans to decentralise our operations to the provinces,” he said.
“The present circuit centres namely Gweru, Hwange/Lupane, Masvingo and Mutare shall be upgraded to the status of permanent fully fledged High Court stations.”
However, Justice Chiweshe acknowledged that due to budgetary constraints, they will roll out the stations in phases, starting with the upgrade of the Masvingo circuit.
The decentralisation of the High Court is meant to mainly deal with the issue of backlog of cases.
“It will have cost benefit for both litigants and practitioners,” he explained.
“It will save Treasury money with regard witnesses’ travel and subsistence expenses, reduced and related expenses incurred by Prisons and Police in moving prisoners to and from Court centres.”
The judge president said there was an urgent need to replenish the judge’s bench by appointing more judges to ease the current backlog.
“In many instances some trials with multi accused persons charged jointly have been allocated a period of two days when it is clear that the trial cannot be concluded within that time.
“As a result we are now clogged with partly heard matters and attendant problems.”
On the issue of prison visits, Justice Chiweshe said it was imperative for judges to visit the country’s prisons to acquaint themselves with the situation on the ground.
“There has not been much activity by way of prison visits by judges.
“This must be addressed. Prison visits are important as they afford the prisoners as opportunity to present their complaints to a visiting judge who ordinarily wields sufficient power and influence to direct appropriate action on the part of prisons, prosecutors and other officials,” the judge president said.