George Maponga Masvingo Bureau—
Zimbabwe’s Judiciary is apolitical, impartial and upholds the highest professional standards in executing its duties, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said yesterday as he dismissed claims that the Judiciary was compromised by political interference.The Chief Justice was responding to concerns by the leader of the obscure Zimbabwe Empowerment Movement (ZEM) Mr Garikai Sithole during a briefing ahead of a tour of Masvingo Civil Court that is set to be upgraded to house the High Court.
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Mr Sithole had appealed to Chief Justice Chidyausiku to ensure judges appointed to the bench did not succumb to political pressure to pass judgments prejudicial to opposition parties. The ZEM leader claimed that some members of the bench passed judgments based on political affiliation, a situation he said had put a blemish on the country’s judicial system.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku dismissed Mr Sithole’s claims, saying there was no evidence that the bench favoured political parties in Zimbabwe. He said the country’s Judiciary was impartial and did not consider political affiliation when making decisions.
“I think we are very impartial and fair in the way we discharge our duties as the country’s Judiciary. What I know is that all our judges are apolitical. There are Zanu-PF members and MDC members who have been jailed after committing various offences and this shows that we are impartial. We do not tolerate political interference,’’ he said.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku said while every human being was susceptible to making mistakes, there was no proof that members of the bench in Zimbabwe had passed judgments based on political considerations.
“We will always make it a point that we take action if there is proof that a member of the bench has made political decisions. We (judiciary) do not work like that and aggrieved parties are always free to come to us and appeal if they feel they have been shortchanged.
“To tell the truth, I have never witnessed political interference in the operations of members of the judiciary,’’ he added. Turning to the issue of corruption in the judiciary, Chief Justice Chidyausiku said he would never condone rotten apples although he noted that it was difficult to prove corruption among members of the judiciary.
He said he was not aware of individuals who were freed by the country’s courts after buying their way out of the dock saying members of the public should report corrupt officers to the police so that punitive action is taken.
“Normally corruption is between two people; that is the person who wants to buy his freedom and the person who is receiving the bribe. It is difficult to prove the corruption in such cases as the two would want the vice to remain a closely guarded secret between them,’’ he added. Chief Justice Chidyausiku said Zimbabwe was far better than most African countries in terms of corruption among members of the judiciary.
Last month, the government of Ghana suspended seven out of 12 high court judges in the wake of allegations of bribery stemming from a documentary made by an investigative journalist.