Harare, April 28, 2015 – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has singled out five High Court judges for their lackluster performance which is affecting the administration of justice in the country.
The JSC singled out the five judges namely Justice David Mangota, Justice Tendai Uchena, Justice Francis Bere, Justice Happious Zhou and Justice Erica Ndewere in a memorandum written by Thembinkosi Msipa, the Acting Registrar of the High Court for the attention of Judge President George Chiweshe.
Msipa charged that the judges had not delivered written judgments in five matters which they had dealt with from as far back as 2011 and which had been taken to the Supreme Court on appeal but could not be heard as the records of appeal were not ready.
“Judgments in these matters have not yet been written, as a result the records of appeal cannot be prepared. The Chief Registrar has directed our office to bring this to your attention so that these judgments may be written in order to enable the Supreme Court to deal with the appeals,” reads part of Msipa’s memo to Chiweshe which was seen by Radio VOP.
Ndewere is yet to deliver judgment for a case filed in 2011 while Zhou’s matter was filed in 2013 together with that of Bere and Uchena. Mangota’s outstanding judgment is for a matter brought before the High Court last year.
In exposing the judge’s sluggish performance in handing down written judgments timely, the JSC appears to be pressing ahead with its new thrust of publicly appraising the performance of judicial officers in all of the country’s courts.
In January, JSC chairperson Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku introduced the new practice of public appraisals of the performance of judicial officers in a groundbreaking first step in applying public scrutiny to the fulfillment of constitutional and legal obligations by public officers.
In his speech marking the official opening of the 2015 legal year, Chidyausiku brought attention to issues negatively affecting the administration of justice in the country. The Chief Justice named five High Court judges as top performers for the 2014 legal year and exposed some of the judges as so lazy to the extent that they only handed down two written judgments in a year in which some judges among them Nicholas Mathonsi handed down 72 judgments.
But the public appraisal was greeted with contempt by the bulk of the country’s judges who hit out at Chidyausiku for being out of touch with modern trends in the justice delivery system and misleading the nation on their performance. The High Court judges charged that the head of the country’s judiciary had soiled their reputation and dignity through his statement.
The judges then petitioned Chiweshe to submit their formal complaint to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Judicial Service Commissioners who are tasked with tendering advice to the government on matters relating to the judiciary or the administration of justice.
Besides reporting Chidyausiku to Mnangagwa, the judges also disputed the Chief Justice’s claims that he had created and assembled an exceptional team to run the JSC thereby escalating feud between the two parties.