‘Lack Of Funding Exposes Judiciary To Capture’: Malaba

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By Mary Taruvinga

CHIEF Justice Luke Malaba has bemoaned the lack of funding in the Judiciary Services Commission (JSC) by the Treasury saying this exposed it to judiciary capture.

Malaba added that due to poor funding the JSC is losing experienced employees unhappy over poor remuneration.

He was speaking during the State of the Judiciary Address (SOJA) in Harare Monday.

The chief justice begged the government to ensure that judicial officers were well paid to avoid corruption.

“It is, therefore, important that the government should constantly review the salaries of the workers so that they remain relevant to the prevailing economic situation. The JSC witnessed a high staff turnover in the year under review because of low salaries,” he said.

In 2021, according to Malaba, the JSC lost a total of 88 members of staff through resignations. At least 18 were magistrates.

Malaba said human capital is the most important resource in the success of any organisation as such must be prioritised.

“To stem the high turnover of professionally competent and skilled employees, an employer, whether public or private, must ensure that it has in place attractive and competitive conditions of service.

“It is no exaggeration to say that justice suffers when judicial officers are underpaid,” he said.

According to Malaba, the JSC experienced the challenge of inadequate funding in 2021.

He said they were unable to make developments due to lack of funding and had to rely on the support of development partners or was forced to cut down some of its operations.

Malaba said the judiciary in terms of the Constitution must retain its independence from the other organs as it was unhealthy to seek funding from outsiders because of Treasury’s failure to disburse enough funding.

“On account of the comity expected from it due to the principle of separation of powers, the judiciary ought not to be put in a situation in which it has to actively petition for funding from the Executive; nor should it be demanding the release of funds allocated to it thereby risking compromising the said comity,” he said.

“The judiciary is unable to actively fundraise. A Judiciary that knocks on several doors begging for funding or that engages in commercial activities for the generation of income undermines the public’s perception of its ability to adjudicate on disputes impartially.

“It is hoped that the Treasury will consider the implementation of the system of block release of adequate funds to the judiciary from its appropriated budget funds to pre-empt the frequent visits to it by officers from the JSC pleading for money for its operational needs,” he said.