Zims lose faith in courts

via Zims lose faith in courts | The Zimbabwean 22.01.14

Zimbabweans are increasingly losing faith in the judicial system, which they say is now badly tainted by partisanship, corruption and incompetence.

Experts and members of the public this week rapped the judiciary for failing to discharge its duties in line with the Constitution, saying the system was tainted right from the Supreme Court to the lowest courts.

The partisan appointment of judges and other judicial officers is the root cause of the “rot in our courts”, says Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Programmes Manager Nickson Nyikadzino. “Patronage in the appointment of judges and recruitment of magistrates as well as other judicial officers is the biggest problem. There is no meritocracy. The President looks at how politically correct are those appointed as judges. It seems there is now a culture to appoint only those who are useful in preserving those in power,” he said.

Critics have also rapped the appointment of Justice George Chiweshe, a Retired Brigadier General, who was also appointed to the Constitutional Court last May, to the position of Judge President.

He was in charge of the electoral commission during the condemned 2008 elections, when it withheld results of the presidential election for more than 30 days in what opposition politicians said was a strategy to manipulate the poll outcome.

As far back as 2012 Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku warned that corruption had seriously compromised the judiciary. Speaking at the launch of a new code of ethics he said: “The judiciary is terribly under-funded. This has seriously impaired the capacity of the judiciary to deliver justice.”

Then Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said corruption had become a “cancerous cell eating away the fabric of our justice delivery system”.

Nyikadzino said the patronage in the judiciary cascaded to the lower courts, where a good number of magistrates are vetted for their political correctness before they are appointed. Many get influential positions because they are known or related to influential judicial staffers.

“The nature of the perks enjoyed by judges raises eyebrows. How can a judge be impartial after being feted with large farms, upmarket houses, expensive cars and direct briefings from the Executive? Some of them are clearly promoted as a thank you for helping some people hold onto power,” he said.

He said appointments to the position of Attorney General had always been based on political bias. Former AG, Johannes Tomana, who was elevated to be the Prosecutor General late last year, has publicly acknowledged that he is a Zanu (PF) activist. A senior lawyers with Zimbabwe Lawyer for Human Rights said: “There are clearly more competent lawyers who could be judges but will not be appointed because they are not well connected. That taints the judiciary.”

Section 180 of the new constitution prescribes a more inclusive approach in the appointment of judges, unlike in the past. It demands that the positions of Chief Justice, his/her deputy, Judge President and other judges must be advertised, after which the President and the public must make nominations and public interviews be conducted to select three suitable candidates.

However, this was not done even when new judges were appointed after the adoption of the new constitution.

Recently, former Speaker of Parliament and the MDC-T National Chairperson, who contested the Matobo North constituency last year and lost to Zanu (PF), withdrew a petition at the Bulawayo High Court, saying he was not guaranteed a fair trial.

“Zanu (PF) stole the elections and the MDC objects the outcome of that election. That is why we took the case to the courts but we have realised that the outcome is predetermined, and therefore a waste of time,” said Lovemore Moyo.

Numerous MDC-T court petitions in which candidates argued that the July 31 polls were rigged crumbled after the courts imposed hefty fees that the party could not raise. There has also been an outcry over several cases in which MDC-T members were perceived to have received politically motivated judgments.

Critics say individuals aligned to Zanu (PF) are treated with kid gloves, with some accused of murder still free years after allegedly committing the offences.


In 2009, the then Judge President, Rita Makarau, admitted that corruption was rampant in the judiciary. “Reports have reached my office and the office of the Chief Justice that support staff are engaging in corrupt practices,” she said.

Another ZLHR lawyer said magistrates and prosecutors were asking for bribes. “It’s unbelievable. PPs (public prosecutors) and magistrates are not even ashamed to ask for bribes from us lawyers,” he said.

Ordinary people no longer have faith in the judiciary. “Cases are determined on the basis over whether you can bribe officials or not. Those that go to jail are poor people, while the rich go scot free or are given bail under unclear circumstances,” said Cecilia Ziwakaya, a receptionist with a tertiary college in Harare.

A former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe employee who was retrenched in 2009 said: “Even senior officials and judges receive bribes. Otherwise how can you explain that former RBZ employees like myself have had documents disappearing on more than two occasions?”


  • comment-avatar

    Tamama isu Mazimbaweans…
    Kutsva kudumbu nekumusana

  • comment-avatar
    John Thomas 8 years ago

    Yes the judiciary has been liberated

  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 8 years ago

    How long can we go on like this. My energy is committed to getting rid of Zanu and freeing Zimbabwe just like we did with removing Smith! So beware of the tyre ma comrades beware.

  • comment-avatar
    Tjingababili 8 years ago


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    Ephraim Rushwell 8 years ago

    All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. So there is justice for Zanu pf which is getting away with anything even murder and justice for the opposition which is being remanded and totured even for the smallest offence. Look at the 7 MDC supporters from Glen view have been in detention for more than 30 months and they dont even have a trial date and their next routine remand date is not known as well. Then we have people like Kereke his rape case had been set aside for years because he was pro Zanu pf nw that he defected we are now hearing that he has a case to answer so judiciary system is indeed selective. There is no transparent in the near future either because the appointment of Tomana as the new Prosecutor General raises more questions than answers the PG should be a proffessional appointment where as the AG can be a political appointment . From the look of things these judicial imbalances are here to stay for as long as Zanu pf is rulling.

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    Charles Chamunorwa 8 years ago

    Chidyausiku knows nothing about the constitution. He challenged the chief justice when he was judge president which is clearly unconstitutional. He should never talk about constitutionalism.

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    Fallenz 8 years ago

    Justice..? When “justice” (favorable rulings) can be purchased, when judgments are politically partisan, when legalities are not applied equally and consistently, a country is no longer a nation of law and order. Without law and order, there is anarchy. Zimbabwe is ruled by anarchists.

    God sees, God will seize, and there true justice will be applied. Can you even now hear the echoes of their screams in torment… those who reject righteousness, faith, and mercy.