Chiefs have said they want to be placed on the Judicial Service Commission’s payroll arguing that they handle matters of importance, just like magistrates and judges. Contributing during a seminar on the Law and Procedure in Local Courts in Gweru yesterday, traditional leaders drawn from the country’s 10 provinces said they were being forced to dig deep into their pockets to fund customary courts.
Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs president Chief Fortune Charumbira said since traditional leaders preside over courts under customary law, they should be employed by the commission and be given some form of payment for their services.
“As chiefs, we feel we should be on the payroll of the commission since we provide a service to the commission. We must be on the JSC payroll. Magistrates earn thousands of dollars and we are getting $5 as court fees, which is not fair,” he said.
Chief Chiduku from Chipinge said traditional leaders’ courts were being affected by lack of funding.
“We ask the JSC to pay us some form of allowance as traditional leaders because we perform JSC duties at our courts. Like at my court, one pays $5 to report a matter and that money is not enough since we need to buy stationery and also provide transport money for the assessors, clerks and Messenger of Court who assist us in presiding over reported matters,” he said.
Chief Chiduku said magistrates had all the resources at their disposal to discharge their duties while chiefs were forced to subsidise what are supposed to be JSC operations.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Mr Gibson Mandaza said the chiefs should get their stationery from the courts around them.
“For your stationery to use at your courts, please approach your local courts. It’s a position that was passed that you should get your books, pens and even do photocopying of court documents from your nearest magistrate courts. That should minimise your operational costs,” he said. herald