WE PUBLISH HERE AN ADDRESS BY ACTING PRESIDENT HIS EXCELLENCY GENERAL CONSTANTINO CHIWENGA (RETIRED), ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE PERMANENT HIGH COURT STATION. MUTARE, 7TH MAY 2018
It is my great pleasure and honour to officiate at this historic occasion in the development of mechanisms to enhance the administration of justice in our great country. This official opening of the Permanent High Court station in Mutare, is a milestone achievement as it cascades Government functions and administrative roles. I applaud the decision by the Judicial Service Commission to make justice more accessible to the people, by decentralising its operations to the provinces.
My Government remains committed to the rule of law and is aware that it is an indispensable as a means of governance. If the rule of law prevails, then the country benefits, if it fails, the country suffers.
Furthermore, when the rule of law is valued and thrives, a nation is stable and its people are content; when, however, it is neglected and weak, a country will fall into turmoil and its people become discontent.
I, thus exhort all organs of the state, security forces, political parties, social groups and private enterprises to treat the constitution as the fundamental code of their activities. We all have a duty to uphold and jealously safeguard the sanctity of the Constitution. No organisation or individual has the right to abuse the Constitution or the law.
We must therefore all work tirelessly to ensure that the Constitution is adhered to and that its full implementation is raised to higher standards. I am glad therefore that the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and its partners continue their efforts to translate the Constitution into several vernacular languages. I urge those responsible for the processes to expedite completion of this vital work, to enable as many of our people as possible, to fully appreciate their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
I am advised that the courthouse we are commissioning today is one of the best in the region. The architectural designs, engineering, construction, building material, and all the furniture were all locally manufactured. This is in line with the country’s Buy Local Initiative and is a clear testimony that Zimbabwe has highly skilled and professional human resources, whose talent has not been tapped in favour of foreign human resources, which must stop forthwith to give our young professionals a chance to exercise their skills.
In the same vein, the establishment of this Permanent High Court Station is a supporting tool in Government’s policies, such as the ease of doing business initiative and the increase in Foreign Direct Investment into the country. It bears a testimony not only to our commitment to open up the country for investment, but to also increase the production and trading capacities of local industry.
Business must draw confidence from the courts, which are now readily accessible to a wider populace in the country. Equally, business derives confidence from the courts which deal with cases promptly and not delaying in pronouncing their decisions.
The courts must protect proprietary interests of everyone in Zimbabwe, including juristic persons. With world class institutions like this new High Court, Zimbabwe has no hesitation in inviting those interested, to invest in the country. It is further proof of the fact that, everyone can, in this new Zimbabwe, trust us with their investments.
I, therefore, exhort the Honourable Chief Justice, to establish with urgency the permanent High Court stations in other provincial centres such as Gweru, Lupane and Gwanda.
Furthermore, my Government has initiated a legislative and administrative mechanism to ease the way of doing business in the country which will see the removal of all bottlenecks and bureaucratic barriers which frustrate investors.
These include legislation providing for the designation of every magistrate’s court as a commercial court, the establishment of small claims courts at every magisterial station and the creation of commercial and other specialised divisions of the High Court. I exhort the Commercial Rent Board to expedite all issues regarding commercial rental disputes to compliment the efforts of the courts.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
We must thwart corruption at all costs. The designation of the courts is a significant step ahead in this fight. I wish to reiterate that there are no sacred cows in this battle. All of us must build on the initial successes we have already scored, in order to achieve more.
In that regard, my Government through relevant stakeholders in the justice delivery sector has set up specialised anti-corruption magistrates’ courts to fight against corruption. It equally intends to establish anti corruption courts, at the level of the High Court, to root out this scourge. The Judicial Service Commission should therefore implement the necessary steps to ensure that the specialist anti-corruption courts achieve the objectives of which they were set.
The legitimacy of the courts is derived from the people of Zimbabwe through listening to the concerns and addressing the presented issues based on facts. I am impressed by the presence of traditional and political leadership of Manicaland which is a sign of community involvement and support for this project. Therefore, this High Court symbolises our aspirations for affordable, simple and accessible justice.
The courts should not be regarded as an institution for punishment, but a means of dispute resolution open to the citizenry, and meant to restore peace amongst people and organisations in disagreement.
Government is aware that some people cannot afford to hire legal representation of their own and is therefore seized with the need to resuscitate the in forma pauperis system, in civil cases, and pro deo legal representation, for those accused of criminal offences as provided for by the Constitution when it speaks on the right to a fair trial for everyone.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I acknowledge the unity of purpose and collaboration demonstrated by the Judicial Service Commission, the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, the office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Manicaland, and all other private entities which participated in the renovation and customisation of this courthouse which used to be a cinema house. This collaboration demonstrates what a country can achieve, if we put our minds together. It further proves that, enhancing access to justice is not the responsibility of the Judicial Service Commission alone. The public institutions must utilise the scarce resources for the development of our country.
Allow me to thank all the Honourable Members of Parliament, and the traditional leadership from this province for their contribution to the establishment of this court which enhances the decentralisation of the justice delivery system.
Your contribution to the establishment of this court should not be overlooked, for it is you who convinced us on the need for the decentralisation policy in the justice delivery system. As representatives and leaders of the people, you knew their needs. Traditional leadership is part of the judicial system, and the establishment of the High Court Station is meant to complement the courts, and not supplant them.
I exhort High Court to clear backlogs and expedite the legal cases such as those relating to murder and divorce, for justice delayed is justice denied. We must make sure justice delivered all in good time and not keep people in remand prison longer than necessary, we have cases that have not been heard for a long time because of backlogs, please clear these cases for the new Zimbabwe believes in timeous justice, and service delivery.
This High Court Station is being opened at a very opportune moment, when Zimbabwe will hold Harmonised General Elections. I want to assure you that my administration is ready to deliver a free, air and credible election. Be that as it may, in terms of the law, the Electoral Court is a specialised division of the High Court.
Its operations are key to the credibility of elections. The Electoral Act also provides for our institutions, such as the Judicial Service Commission(JSC), the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to designate officials who are dedicated to dealing with political violence and intimidation.
In this regard I appeal to every Zimbabwean to shun violence and preach the gospel of peace, unity, tolerance, love and understanding throughout the country. We have invited observers from across the globe to witness our election. I call upon all Zimbabweans to show them our warm hospitality and demonstrate that our democracy has matured and come of age.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Finally allow me to acknowledge the roles of the National Prosecuting Authority, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, the Law Society of Zimbabwe and other civic organisations, who are all active and complementary players in the administration of justice.
Furthermore, access to justice, means much more access to a court–house, as it encompasses all processes, and institutions which promote the efficient and effective administration of justice. You are all part of that chain, and none of you must be a weak link.
With these remarks, it is now my privilege and honour to declare the Permanent High Court station in Mutare officially opened.
God Bless Zimbabwe,
I thank you!