Chief Justice Sets Tone for Legal Year

By Tendai Rupapa

Heavy downpours witnessed in central Harare yesterday morning failed to steal the glitter from the official opening of the 2019 legal year, with judicial officers optimistic of a fruitful working year.

Resplendent in their red regalia complete with white headgear, Supreme Court judges stood on the entrance of Mashonganyika Building awaiting the arrival of Chief Justice Luke Malaba. After the arrival, the Chief Justice inspected a Guard of Honour before proceeding into the building to kick-start the proceedings.

There was a neatly laid out overflow tent which accommodated lawyers, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society and some court officials who could not fit into Mashonganyika Building owing to space constraints. They followed proceedings from giant screens as the Chief Justice delivered his key note address.

Most of them could be seen smiling while others nodded their heads in agreement of what the judicial boss was saying. After giving his speech, those following proceedings inside the building joined those who were in the tent when refreshments were being served.

Lawyers, judges, magistrates and other court officials could be seen chatting and sharing notes on what the Chief Justice had said.

This year’s theme was: “Consolidation of the rule of law.” In an interview, advocate Lewis Uriri welcomed Chief Justice Malaba’s speech describing it as incisive and inspiring.

He said the judiciary should be accorded support and respect.

“This was a sharp, incisive and inspiring speech by the Chief Justice. It has a simple take home: we are, as a nation and a people, creatures of the law whose common destiny must be collectively realised on the basis of the law which founds and defines us. Central to the rule of law is the binding nature of the law on both State and non-State actors,” he said.

“There is no greater right derived by some from the same legal prescription. We are equal before the law. The courts are our final line of defence and without them the Republic crumbles. This essential pillar of the State must be accorded the support and respect it deserves from all Zimbabweans who deserve to answer to our identity as such.

“We must, as a people refuse to recognise any authority as superior to the law, without which a democratic State founded on the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law can exist. This is the essence of the founding principles contained in our Supreme Law.

“It was necessary the Chief Justice restates this fundamental basis of our foundation as a nation and a people with clearly defined hopes and aspirations. It sets the tone not only for a successful 2019 legal year, but for the successful realisation of our dreams and aspirations as a people.”

Mr Caleb Mucheche, who is the founder and senior legal researcher at ZimLaw Trust, said what Chief Justice Malaba said in his speech, set an excellent tone for a promising legal year adding that it attracted public trust and confidence in the courts and justice delivery in Zimbabwe.

“The speech was practical, loaded and set an excellent tone for a promising legal year. The speech’s thrust on consolidating the rule of law, jealously guarding the due process of law, relentless fight against corruption, need for Treasury to respect the financial independence of the Judiciary as it pursues its austerity measures and clarion call to pay working staff in the Judiciary a living wage attracts public trust and confidence in the courts and justice delivery in Zimbabwe bearing in mind that judicial authority derives from the people of Zimbabwe in terms of section 162 of the Constitution. The positive work output and good performance by all the courts in reducing the backlog of cases in 2018 show that the wheels of justice are running well in the country,” he said.

Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Innocent Maja commended the Chief Justice for focusing on the rule of Law in his speech.

“The focus on the rule of law is quite good especially with the new thrust that is there that Zimbabwe is open for business, rule of law is very conducive and is one of the requirements that are required whenever a country wants to attract foreign direct investment.

“That focus will give investors the necessary confidence that they need to invest in Zimbabwe.”

Source : The Herald

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