Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Zimbabwe magistrates urged to uphold ethical conduct

by Staff reporter
31 Mar 2023 at 07:43hrs | Views
MAGISTRATES have been challenged to uphold ethical conduct in their execution of duty to ensure a corruption-free and quality justice delivery system.

More than 200 magistrates from across the country and other stakeholders are attending the inaugural Magistrates' National Conference being hosted by the Judicial Service Commission through the Judicial Training School in Victoria Falls.

The conference started yesterday and will end tomorrow.

Speaking at the official opening, Chief Justice Luke Malaba who is the JSC chairperson said work is underway to produce a document that will set sentencing guidelines for magistrates to follow when handling criminal cases.

"We are here to share ideas on measures we can implement in our public offices where we serve as agents of the people. We must bring these ideas together and our being here is being creative to build a successful institution that is interested in serving the interests of the country and beyond," said CJ Malaba.

He implored magistrates to be exemplary, professional, have empathy and be respectable without compromising their profession or abusing their office.

Chief Justice Malaba said human rights on their own demand a behaviour that is consistent with being a human being.

"All these issues being raised here must be discussed at the national council by all stakeholders and we are therefore looking forward to the outcome of this conference.

We are going to submit to the Commission a document that has been prepared on sentencing guidelines and once the Commission approves, it will then be submitted to the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

These guidelines will form the basis of sentencing," said CJ Malaba.

He said a magistrate must be knowledgeable and accountable.

Constitutional Court Judge Justice Rita Makarau concurred and urged magistrates not to abuse their offices in the execution of duty and interaction with members of the public.

She said judicial independence is not absolute as members of the bench should remain guided by the law.

Justice Ministry Permanent Secretary Mrs Virginia Mabhiza said a lot of strategies were being put in place by Government to make sure magistrates and prosecutors remain ethical in the public eye.

Mrs Mabhiza said the ministry looks forward to a world class justice system by 2030.

She said the theme of the conference: "Building a competent judiciary that inspires public confidence through improved quality of service" resonates well with the vision to attain world class Justice by the year 2030.

"As a sector, we all feed into the National Development Strategy (NDS1) which is our national blueprint guiding our service delivery aiming to become an upper middle class society by the year 2030.

"Under NDS1 our key focus areas as the governance sector are justice delivery, public service delivery, national peace and reconciliation and it is therefore imperative to note that the roles of the judiciary and the executive arm of Government, to which my ministry belong are very complementary as we all focus on justice delivery," she said.

Mrs Mabhiza urged the legal fraternity to work in unison as she commended the various sectors for developments that have taken place.

She said Government is committed to improving conditions of service and welfare of its officers.

The need to comprehensively fight and remove corruption in the justice system featured prominently in the presentations by various speakers, with acting Prosecutor-General Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa saying the National Prosecution Authority will not tolerate any form of corruption among court officials.

He said corruption is a stumbling block to the attainment of Vision 2030 and there is a need for collective effort in nipping the vice in the bud.

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said the commission will continue being pro-active by educating society to shun corruption.

The conference is a platform for magistrates to introspect and reflect on their role as the bench, share ideas and experiences as well as take stock of the operations of the court system.

Source - The Chronicle