Monday, 15 January 2018

JUDGE HAILS OPERATION RESTORE LEGACY

Judge President Justice George Chiweshe has hailed the new political dispensation and the subsequent opening up of the democratic space in the country following the launch of Operation Restore Legacy that was spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) in November last year.

Operation Restore Legacy saw the ZDF moving in to forestall instability in the country by removing a cabal of corrupt and criminal elements that were abusing their proximity to former President Cde Robert Mugabe.

Officially opening the 2018 legal year during a colourful ceremony at the Masvingo High Court yesterday, Justice Chiweshe said the new political dispensation enhanced the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

He stressed the importance of recognising that power was peacefully and constitutionally transferred in the wake of the launch of the military intervention.

“Our overview of the 2017 legal year must of necessity recognise that there is a new political dispensation in the country following what has been dubbed ‘Operation Restore Legacy’,’’he said.

“The dramatic events, which took place during the period 13 to 21 November 2017, are unprecedented in the region. This unique operation led by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has opened up the democratic space and enhanced the rule of law in the country.’’

Justice Chiweshe congratulated President Emmerson Mnangagwa on his ascension to the Presidency.
“More importantly, there has been a peaceful and constitutional transfer of political power. I congratulate his Excellency President ED Mnangagwa on his appointment as Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“I also congratulate his two deputies, Retired General Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga and Cde Kembo Mohadi.’’

Turning to the justice delivery system, Justice Chiweshe noted that the appointment of eight new judges has boosted the number of High Court judges at the country’s three High Court stations – Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo – to 38.

Harare now has 31 High Court judges, followed by Bulawayo (five) and Masvingo (two).
According to Justice Chiweshe, last year, the High Court managed to reduce the backlog of cases by about 57 percent, as the case load fell from 10 082 cases at the beginning of last year to 4 303 cases by the end of November. The number of pending appeals also dropped by 19 percent from an opening balance of 9 153 cases to a closing balance of 8 001 by December.

Justice Chiweshe also applauded the efforts of Masvingo High Court judges — Justices Mawadze and Mafusire – to expeditiously deal with the cases.
Masvingo, he said, had managed to clear most of the civil and criminal cases that were received last year.

“Of the 274 civil cases that were received last year, 205 were completed while of the 968 criminal cases received during the same year, 778 cases were completed, representing an 80 percent clearance,” he said.

During the same period, 197 bail applications were cleared out of 200 bail applications that were made. However, Judge Chiweshe singled out Justice Mafusire for praise after he had to contend with managing the work at the Masvingo High Court alone during the last four months of the year after his colleague Justice Mawadze was away following the death of his wife in a road accident in September.

Justice Chiweshe said the decentralisation the High Court will be intensified, with the country’s fourth High Court station expected to be opened in the eastern border city of Mutare during the course of this year.

More High Court stations, he said, will be opened in other parts of the country, depending on the availability of resources.

Justice Chiweshe said Chief Justice Luke Malaba has gazetted a fifth division, the Commercial Court, at the Harare High Court, though it is still to be operationalised. This division will add to the current four divisions at the Harare High Court, namely Criminal, Civil, Family Law and the Appeals Divisions.

The Masvingo 2018 High Court legal year was witnessed by Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Josaya Hungwe, Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira, service chiefs and members of the legal fraternity. Herald

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