By Professor Matodzi
Harare, Wednesday 25 September, 2013 – Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku will on Thursday meet with the country’s judges at a time when morale is at its lowest point over poor working conditions.
According to Judge President Justice George Chiweshe, Chidyausiku will engage with the judges in the tea room located at the High Court on Thursday morning.
Although Chiweshe did not circulate the agenda for the meeting, informed sources told Radio VOP that poor working conditions will top the list of issues to be discussed.
“The Hon Chief Justice will have tea with us tomorrow Thursday 26 September 2013 at 1100 hours. May all honourable judges be in the tea room by that time,” reads part of a memorandum circulated to judges by Chiweshe which was seen by Radio VOP.
Judges have in recent months been demanding a review of their working conditions in a move which revealed the levels of discontentment among them.
The judges recently petitioned Chiweshe demanding to be furnished with updated copies of their working conditions. The judges asked the Judge President to give “urgent attention” to updating their current conditions of service which they said they were now unsure about following several undisclosed modifications to their working conditions.
In 2011, the judges demanded suits from the government to give a face lift to their dressing. Their request followed a tongue lashing by Chiweshe who read the riot act to them over scruffy dressing and playing truant.
But in response to Chiweshe’s rebuke, the judges demanded to be supplied with suits to improve their shabby dressing. The judges implored their employer, the Judicial Services Commission to supply them with three suits, five shirts or five blouses and three pairs of shoes per year. The judges said the provision of clothing to the country’s 26 high court judges would cost a total of $27 560 per annum at an individual cost of $1 060.
In February, the High Court judges demanded new court robes and other professional regalia as their garments were now old and worn out second-hand items inherited from long-retired judges.
The judicial officers also protested that their security was compromised as access to their chambers by the public was too easy. They have also demanded to be provided with new computers, internet connectivity and the restocking of their library.
Chidyausiku has already bemoaned that corruption has become endemic in the country’s justice system owing to poor remuneration for judiciary employees and impressed the government to review their salaries.