THIS WEEK’S commissioning of the new Mutare High Court, which becomes the fourth upper court in the country after Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo was a milestone achievement for Manicaland province.
The majestic courthouse, which has been rated as one of the best in the Southern Africa region, will go a long way in bringing justice closer to communities. Indeed, the opening of the Mutare High Court will usher a new era in the justice delivery system in this part of the country. Benefits that accrue with the existence of this upper court are too many to mention.
Before its establishment, people had to travel to Harare to lodge their cases at the High Court or wait for months for trial under a circuit system that was failing to clear a backlog of cases.
Instead of justice being cheap and affordable it became expensive and elusive. Those without means to travel to Harare to seek justice got abused in silence. We applaud the Judicial Service Commission for speedily setting up this upper court that will go a long way to solve justice delivery bottlenecks that were haunting the Manicaland community.
Those seeking divorce are no longer required to hear their cases in Harare because justice is now at the door step. In his keynote address at the commissioning of the Mutare High Court, acting President Retired General Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga said the opening of the court was timely as the country was about to hold harmonised elections.
He said the upper court, by its very nature of having a specialised Electoral Court that deals with election disputes, was key to the holding of free and fair elections.
What it entails is that those with queries regarding the electoral process will quickly seek recourse.
This shows that the new political dispensation is walking the talk to ensure the holding of free and fair elections. The Mutare High Court is an important set up to achieve this.
We walk together with the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Cde Monica Mutsvangwa when she said, in her welcome address at the commissioning ceremony, Government must move with speed to resolve the shortage of magistrates in the province.
She said there were only three magistrates serving the Mutare Magistrate’s Courts while other courts in the districts were each being served by a single magistrate.
“I am aware that there are only three magistrates at Mutare magistrates’ court. The three include the provincial magistrate who also handles the administrate duties. The majority of our people’s cases are handled by the magistrates courts.
The three magistrates that we have at Nyanga, Mutasa and Murambinda had two court rooms each and there is only one magistrate. The rest of the courtrooms are idle and we do not wish the beautiful buildings to become white elephants in our midst,” she said.
Such a scenario is unacceptable and deprives communities their right to be heard on time.
They say justice delayed is justice denied.
We are glad that Retired General Chiwenga quickly appreciated the urgency of the plea raised by Cde Mutsvanga and he promised to tackle the shortage of the magistrates with the urgency so required.
“From today I want to say the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Judiciary Service Commission and where necessary the head of Civil Service will expeditiously address the matter,” he said.
When our courts are adequately manned by competent people, the rule of law prevails. Resultantly, businesses will grow and industries will start to grind.
We are alive to the fact that the establishment of the Mutare High Court will definitely support Government policies regarding the ease of doing business. The bottom line here is that businesses derive confidence from the courts; courts that make prompt and fair decisions.
The opening of the new High Court therefore comes as a blessing. As the province makes strides to transform its fortune this upper court will definitely work as a growth agent.