Zimbabwe’s aggrieved High Court Judges have roped in Vice President and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene in their ongoing feud with Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku after he labelled them lazy and underperformers.
Chidyausiku, the head of the country’s judiciary, criticised the bulk of the country’s judges as lazy and that their lethargic performance had negatively affected the administration of justice.
The criticism was pronounced by Chidyausiku during the official opening of the legal year in January when he publicly appraised the performance of judicial officers in all of the country’s courts in a groundbreaking first step in applying public scrutiny to the fulfillment of constitutional and legal obligations by public officers.
The Chief Justice named five High Court judges as top performers for the 2014 legal year while some of the judges were 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 issued in January.
The judges have now petitioned Judge President George Chiweshe to submit their complaint to Mnangagwa and the Judicial Service Commissioners whose functions include tendering advice to the government on matters relating to the judiciary or the administration of justice.
“Honourable Judge President, we request you, as before to forward our concerns to the Honourable Chief Justice, all the Judicial Service Commissioners and the Honourable Minister of Justice,” reads part of the judges’ letter written to Chiweshe recently and which was seen by Radio VOP.
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 Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
“It is not intended to take away anything from the Chief Justice. However, the judges have some grave concerns on some operational aspects of the JSC,” reads part of the judges’ letter in which they protested against the practice of procuring information and statistics about their work for “use and publication without their input and without affording them the chance to interrogate them”.