New era dawns for Judiciary

Source: New era dawns for Judiciary | The Herald December 28, 2016

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter —
The Labour and Admimistrative Courts will be headed by senior judges instead of Judge Presidents if the Constitutional Amendment Bill (Number 1), gazetted last week, becomes law.

Both courts will be subordinate to the High Court, according to the proposed changes to the supreme law contained in the Bill. The Bill also seeks to provide for the President to appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.

According to the proposed amendments, the Labour Court will be headed by a senior judge and the same will apply to the Administrative Court. Both courts are headed by a Judge President, which places heads of the two courts at par with the Judge President, who heads the High Court bench.

The intended amendment to the Constitution clarifying the position put to rest the confusion that reigned supreme in the judiciary and the legal fraternity over the superiority and jurisdictions of the courts.

The Constitution of Zimbabwe became fully operational on August 22, 2013. The Bill will also seek to amend Section 174 of the Constitution by providing subsection (1) which deals with courts and tribunals.

It will create subsection (2) to provide clarity on the hierarchy of the courts.

“(2) For purposes of this section and Section 171 (1)(b), it is declared, for the avoidance of doubt, that the Labour Court and Administrative Court are courts subordinate to the High Court,” reads the suggested amendment.

The proposed amendments make it clear that the salaries, allowances and other benefits of the judges of the Labour and Administrative Courts would not be reduced in conformity with Section 188(4) of the Constitution.

Subsection (4) states that: “The salaries, allowances and other benefits of members of the judiciary must not be reduced while they hold or act in the office concerned.”

The Bill follows weeks of debate on the provision in the Constitution which took away the President’s powers to appoint people to the crucial positions of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President.

The Constitution provides that the President appoints the Chief Justice from a list given to him by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). In compiling the list for appointment, the JSC advertises for the positions, inviting interested people to apply before conducting public interviews.

The proposed amendments will substitute Section 180 of the Constitution, which provides for the appointment of judges.

Clause Six of the Bill amends Section 180 of the present Constitution by providing that the President’s choice of Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court be final, should there be differences of choices between his nominee and those recommended by JSC.