By Mary Taruvinga
ZIMBABWE will be introducing electronic courts, also known as e-courts, starting May 1.
The announcement was made through Statutory Instrument (SI) 78, 79 and 80 of 2022 published in the Government Gazette Friday.
The new regulations apply to the Constitutional Court, High Court and the Supreme Court respectively.
“It is hereby notified that the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has, in terms of section 26(2) of the Constitutional Court Act [Chapter 7:22], approved the following rules made by the Chief Justice. These rules may be cited as the Constitutional Court (Amendment) Rules, 2022 (No. 1),” reads one of the notices.
“The Constitutional Court Rules, 2016, published in Statutory Instrument 61 of 2016 (hereinafter called the principal rules), are amended as follows, rule 2 of the principal rules is amended in subrule by the insertion of the following definitions and Interpretations…IECMS account” means Integrated Electronic Case Management that is a litigant’s account accessed through the internet which enables him or her to access the IECMS platform,” reads part of the notice.
The IECMS will introduce electronic case filing, automatic case allocation to judicial officers, electronic case tracking and management from filing to finalisation and virtual hearings.
The e-courts have been introduced in line with new technologies and the need for efficiency in the delivery of justice with consistency and collective effort by all justice delivery players.
Giving his State of the Judiciary Address (SOJA) early this year Chief Justice Luke Malaba said efficiency is connected to justice delivery as justice must not be delayed.
He further lamented the access to justice challenges that the nation continues to face due to the persistent Covid-19 pandemic.
To address the challenges, and in line with the 2022 legal year theme, Malaba promised that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) will adopt technological measures that are earmarked to reform and transform the current operations in the justice delivery sector.
All players in the justice system including judges and magistrates and court staff and the JSC itself, legal practitioners, the National Prosecuting Authority, the Office of the Attorney-General, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service have received training from the JSC ICT team.