Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku has once again slammed some High Court judges for being “lazy” and creating a backlog, with one judge only handing down two judgments last year while other judges had written more than 300. Justice Chidyausiku hit out at Justices Samuel Kudya, Alphas Chitakunye and Priscilla Chigumba for failing to conclude cases during their interviews to be considered for elevation to the Supreme Court on Thursday.
It merged that Justice Kudya had only handed down two judgments last year while Justice Chitakunye handed 69 judgments, something the Judicial Service Commission said was a cause for concern. Justice Charles Hungwe, who was part of eight judges to be interviewed, was commended for writing more than 100 judgments in a year.
“The pressure in the Supreme Court is more than at the High Court. Why should the Commission be convinced that you will write more judgments at the Supreme Court when you have not been writing at the High Court. Some of your fellow judges have written 330 judgments while you have written two,” said Chief Justice Chidyausiku, while interviewing Justice Kudya.
“If it was a small difference of about say 10, I would understand, but a discrepancy of about 200, we have problems with that.” Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba weighed in saying: “You wrote 12 judgments in 2013, it means you are not really working.” In response, Justice Kudya said he was once Acting Secretary of JSC, a position which consumed some of his time.
He said in some of the instances he disposed of some cases during pre-trial management meetings where one party would eventually withdraw. “So you are saying you are disposing the cases through arbitration and not through judgments?” asked Chief Justice Chidyausiku.
Justice Kudya said he is in a specialised court — the Fiscal Court — where he is the only judge, adding that he receives large volumes of documents to go through.
“The 24 hours I have in a day are not enough to deal with a tax case. I am surprised I have not had a nervous breakdown. I have most of the time taught myself. I have no one to consult, one judge who used to do such cases is Retired Justice (George) Smith and he is now a consultant of most of the parties that appear before me, making it impossible to consult him,” said Justice Kudya.
“Another judge is Justice (Ben) Hlatshwayo, but he is now at the Supreme Court. I would not want to bother him since I know he is a busy man. “Besides if I consult him what if he is to deal with the very case that I would have consulted on appeal.”
Justice Chitakunye said he sits on the African Union Commission on Human Rights and that entails travelling a lot and reading voluminous documents and hinted that could be one of the reasons for lower output.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku said if that was the case, the JSC might consider not to second judges to the continental body if their work was being compromised. The judges were also taken to task on why they had a higher number of their cases overturned on appeal.