The Chief Magistrate’s Office has scaled up its anti-graft efforts through a massive reshuffle of judicial officers, which will see close to 40 magistrates being transferred to and from border and mining towns, countrywide.
The Judicial Service Commission early this year launched its anti-corruption campaign dubbed “Against Corruption Together” (ACT) which aims at curbing corruption in the justice delivery system.
ACT was jointly launched by the JSC and its seven stakeholders who joined hands and declared zero-tolerance to corruption.
The Attorney- General’s Office, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Law Society of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, National Prosecuting Authority and the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs were parties to the campaign.
Chief Magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe emphasised that those on the transfer list were never convicted or should never be perceived to be corrupt.
Instead, Mr Guvamombe said, the transfers were a preventative measure to do away with possible corrupt tendencies that are associated with overstaying at one station.
“We have embarked on a transfer exercise that will see over 30 magistrates being moved to new stations by January 1 next year.
“So far, we have compiled a list of 33 magistrates who will be transferred in batches. Financial challenges will not allow us to move them at once because they need relocation allowances and other entitlements in terms of their conditions of service.
“Overstaying at one station may end up compromising magistrates and the routine transfers are necessary to fight the scourge,” he said.
Mr Guvamombe said if funds permit, the transfer exercise will cascade to other non-judicial officers like interpreters, clerks of court and drivers.
The transfer, Mr Guvamombe said, also strengthens operations. He added that the movements will promote efficiency of the magistrates.
The transfers targeted mining and border towns where temptations of corruption are high.
Most transfers took place in areas like Beitbridge, Kwekwe, Plumtree, Gwanda, Kadoma, Zvishavane, Mutare and Mutoko.
Some transfers were made in Harare, Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Masvingo and Goromonzi.
Mid this year, the same office transferred six regional magistrates in areas like Bindura, Gwanda, Gokwe, Chivhu and Bulawayo.
However, Mr Guvamombe has applauded magistrates for working hard despite the challenges they are facing.
“I am impressed by the general performance of magistrates countrywide. I really appreciate their efforts, dispensing quality justice across the country,” he said.
Zimbabwe requires at least 250 magistrates but at the moment only 189 are in post, leaving the bench with a shortage of 61 magistrates.
The chief magistrate appealed to Treasury to unfreeze the recruitment of magistrates, and/or allow his office to employ at least 10 magistrates annually. Herald