Zim Judges Say Government Should Buy Them Clothes

In a memo dated 7 October written to Chiweshe by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, who is the chairman of the judges’ workers committee, 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.

Judge President George Chiweshe recently berated and accused judges of violating their dress code which entails dressing conservatively by wearing dark suits, white or lightly coloured shirts and dark shoes and wearing creased jabots.

Chiweshe hit out at judges for breaching the legal profession’s etiquette, which prescribes black, navy and charcoal grey suits as court colours.

The Judge president also accused judges of absenting themselves from duty without seeking leave and of switching off their cell phones, resulting in them being unreachable to attend to urgent chamber applications heard after hours and during weekends.

But in response to Chiweshe’s rebuke, the judges held a meeting and demanded to be supplied with suits to improve their shabby dressing.

Bhunu said the provision of clothing to the country’s 26 high court judges will cost a total of US$27 560 per annum at an individual cost of US$1 060.

“At that meeting it was resolved that the norm and customary practice is that whenever the employer prescribes a dress code or uniform, the employer must provide or finance the acquisition of such clothing as part of the tools of trade. Judges have it on good advice that senior parliamentary officers are provided with appropriate clothing commensurate with their positions to portray and maintain the dignity of parliament. The meeting then resolved that JSC be implored through your good offices to provide judges, who are the embodiment and personification of the superior courts, with appropriate clothing as part and parcel of their tools of trade and profession,” reads part of Bhunu’s memo entitled “dress code”.

In 2008, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono spoiled judges with presents such as vehicles, plasma television sets, generators to beat power outages and laptops.