Govt dismisses warped NGO report

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Government yesterday fired a salvo on the local NGO report questioning the independence of the Judiciary and described it as “tired and old rhetoric” that should be smoked for its inequity.

Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was reacting to the report; “State of Human Rights Report Zimbabwe 2018”, prepared by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum launched in the capital yesterday.

The report claimed widespread misgivings over the independence of judges, magistrates and prosecutors.

Minister Ziyambi picked holes in the report and dismissed it as biased in light of the progress so far made in the reforms which President Mnangagwa’s administration has undertaken since July 2018.

“I think it’s a tired and old rhetoric that the Judiciary is captured,” he said.

“We have several judgments against the State and who had captured them when they ruled against the State?

“I as Minister of Justice have never issued any directive pertaining to any case before our courts and as Government we strictly respect our Constitution and the separation of powers principle.”

According to the report, judges and magistrates were not free from the tentacles of the Executive, especially on matters with a political bearing.

It also claims that the members of the Judiciary and prosecution are beholden to the Government for receiving farms and other lucrative benefits and outright corruption.

Further the report claims that the courts and National Prosecuting Authority seemed to operate under third party instructions in certain cases, particularly those viewed as politically-sensitive or involving certain individuals.

But Minister Ziyambi said both the Judicial Service Commission and National Prosecuting Authority derive their independence from the Constitution.

As the Executive, he said, they uphold the Constitution.

“Every Zimbabwean who wanted a farm benefited from the agrarian reform programme and magistrates and judges also have ancestors who had their land stolen so were entitled to get what was rightly theirs,” he said.

The minister said election petitions are disposed according to the dictates of the Electoral Act and the question of Executive capture does not arise.

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