High Court sets up special Appeals Division to improve efficiency

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By Alois Vinga

THE High Court of Zimbabwe has set up a Special Appeals Division, in a development that is set to make the courts more efficient in clearing case backlogs.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba in a general notice 658 of 2019 published in the Government Gazette Fridany, announced the new set-up.

“It is hereby notified in terms of Section 171 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as read with section 46A of the High Court Act, that after consultations with the Judge President and in the interest of expediting justice delivery and promoting the ease of access to justice, a specialised division of the High Court to be known as the Appeals Division of the High Court is hereby created to adjudicate all civil and criminal appeals which lie to the High Court,” Justice Malaba said.

The Appeals Division shall sit in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mutare as a permanent division of the High Court at the places and dates specified by the High Court.

The development comes at a time when the country’s courts are saddled with a number of outstanding court cases including those related to corruption amid reports some accused persons have been on remand for years without trial.

According to a 2018 Judicial Services Commission report ,the High Court was said to have completed 24 568 cases in 2017, up from 23 600 in 2016, while cases received in the Supreme Court increased from 712 in 2016 to 1 002 in 2017.

The report also noted that security at the country’s courts is generally lax with theft of office equipment is rife. So bad is the situation that the JSC’s information technology (IT) department could not install case tracking computers at stations as on a number of occasions, the offices have been broken into and equipment stolen.

However, government says it is working flat out to put in place mechanisms that improve the smooth functioning of the courts. Apart from the setting up of the Appellate Division, government is also working to establish a Commercial Court which will deal with all business related cases.