By Costa Nkomo
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa Wednesday urged the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to fast track and conclude all corruption cases currently before the courts.
Mnangagwa, whose administration is accused of capturing the judiciary to protect its allies involved in corrupt acts, was speaking at the launch of the JSC 2021-2025 strategic plan in Harare.
The strategic plan will enable the JSC to decentralise court operations and allow communities to access justice services timeously.
“I applaud the commission for implementing my government’s decision for the establishment of the specialised anti-corruption courts in every province,” Mnangagwa said.
“In line with the key result areas of the current strategic plan, and the public’s expectations, I urge you, in collaboration with other agencies, to speedily finalise the cases that are before the courts.
“In addition, the JSC must equally improve the efficiency of its systems so that all cases of corruption are brought to the courts, without delay.”
Mnangagwa said fighting corruption was one of the key performance areas of the JSC strategic plan.
“The inclusion of fighting corruption as one of the key strategic focus areas in the JSC strategic plan is noted and must be manifest in the deeds and conduct of your various sub-units and respective individual members,” he added.
Speaking at the same event, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said there was need for the JSC to “strike a balance between accountability and independence”.
“The JSC will seek to strike a balance between accountability and independence by adopting a policy of ‘responsible independence’ or independence with accountability,” he said.
However, there have been widespread accusations that there is judicial capture in the country.
The opposition MDC Alliance said it does not trust the courts as independent arbiters of disputes as the judiciary had an appendage of the ruling elite.
The opposition party said the courts were being used to whip those with dissenting views while shielding looters of state resources.
On Tuesday, serious objections were raised after a dodgy businessman Delish Nguwaya, an ally of Mnangagwa and the First Family, was freed after he was arrested early this year on charges of using fake papers to win a US$6 million government tender for Covid-19 supplies.
Last October, judges wrote a letter copied to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), and Attorney-General Prince Machaya, complaining that Chief Justice Malaba was interfering with their work and judgments.
“What is repeated in the public domain and on social media about the capture of the judiciary is no longer fiction or perception, it is in fact, reality,” the letter read in part.
The judges also accused Chief Justice Malaba of interfering with decisions made by magistrates through the office of the chief magistrate.
“At the superior courts, it is an open secret that judges no longer enjoy any respect and that administrative staff now spy on judges and report to the various registrars, who in turn make reports to the Judicial Service Commission secretariat for onward reporting to the Chief Justice,” the letter read in part.