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Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter
CHIEF Justice Luke Malaba has declared that he will leave no stone unturned in his endeavour to fight corruption within the country’s Judiciary.
Speaking during the commissioning of three new courtrooms at the Bulawayo High Court yesterday, CJ Malaba said it was disheartening to note that corruption continues to rear its ugly head in the country, particularly within the Judiciary.
He warned judicial officers and lawyers against engaging in corruption, saying those involved will be harshly dealt with.
“There is a terrible scourge called corruption and as the Judiciary, we maintain our stance that cases of corruption must be dealt with decisively by the courts. I want to make it clear to all and sundry, whether you are a lawyer, judge or magistrate that it is our duty to deal decisively with cases of corruption,” he said.
CJ Malaba said the Judiciary should play a central role in fighting crime and urged litigants and members of the public to play a role in the fight against corruption.
“For the Judiciary to play its central role in combating corruption, each member must be beyond reproach in the execution of their duties. I also urge litigants and members of the public to expose corruption practices which they experience in the administration of justice,” he said.
CJ Malaba said the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) has embarked on an in-house training programme to curb the scourge within the organisation.
“We have, on our part, embarked on a programme of continuous judicial education and training to inculcate into judicial officers the necessary values for fighting corruption,” he said.
CJ Malaba said the recent deployment of 57 newly sworn in magistrates throughout the country will reduce the workload and ensure that senior magistrates who are more experienced are moved to the anti-corruption courts.
In March, CJ Malaba officially launched the anti-corruption courts in Harare and Bulawayo and appointed 12 magistrates to preside over corruption cases in the two cities.
In his inauguration speech, President Mnangagwa identified corruption as one of the main impediments to the country’s economic growth and declared zero tolerance to the scourge
Cde Mnangagwa established a Special Anti-Corruption Unit housed in the Office of the President and Cabinet to improve efficiency in the fight against all forms of graft and to strengthen the effectiveness of national mechanisms for the prevention of corruption.
CJ Malaba said the additional courtrooms at the Bulawayo High Court will help expedite the clearance of the backlog of cases.
“There is no doubt that the three state-of-art courtrooms with modern equipment and furniture were designed to ensure the delivery of justice in a comfortable and user-friendly environment,” he said.
The commissioning of the three additional courtrooms brings the number to six. CJ Malaba said plans were underway to deploy two more judges in Bulawayo following the retirement of Justice Lawrence Kamocha and the elevation of Justice Francis Bere to the Supreme Court bench. “The idea of the creation of the additional courtrooms came out of the realisation at the time that there were three courtrooms and six judges. That effectively meant that three judges would be in court at any given time, resulting in cases that could have been heard and disposed of being postponed,” he said.
The creation of three additional courtrooms at the Bulawayo High Court coincides with Government’s efforts to devolve governance issues and responsibilities to provincial councils.
“Bulawayo is earmarked to be the industrial hub of the country and the expansion of the courthouse will ensure that disputes arising from the anticipated upsurge in commercial activity are speedily resolved,” said CJ Malaba.