Conrad Mupesa–Mashonaland West Bureau
A WALK into the new composite Chinhoyi Courts Building commissioned by President Mnangagwa last week will leave one convinced that, indeed, Vision 2030 is possible under the Second Republic.
Vision 2030 reflects the collective aspirations and determination of the people of Zimbabwe towards a prosperous upper middle income nation by 2030.
The national vision’s objectives are aligned to the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
During commissioning of the building, the President pledged to finish all stalled projects.
The new structure roared to life recently, with first cases being tried. About 100 metres east lies the former provincial courts, which were converted from Chinhoyi Hospital in the 1990s.
A visit to the building at night shows how events have quickly unfolded since the coming in of the Second Republic, which in April 2018 resumed construction of the project.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), has, since the 1990s, conducted court sessions in a cramped environment, with some cases being deferred until there was an opening at one of the three small court chambers it had.
Unlike the new building, which has state-of-the-art and international standard 12-holding cells, the old court building only had one holding cell.
Thus, members of the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) had to bear the brunt of escorting the accused back to Chinhoyi Prison, about 300 metres east, on foot.
Construction had commenced in 2002 before being halted in 2008 due to hyperinflation.
While specifics surrounding the successful completion of the new building are well-documented, it is the experience of the staff now working at the top-notch court building, lawyers and litigants as well as their families, and the aspirations of the town and entire province, that caught the eye of this reporter.
The much awaited commissioning of the composite courts building has been hailed by court officials, stakeholders and ordinary people.
Erected behind the OK Zimbabwe supermarket, and two streets from Magamba Way, the multi-million dollar storey structure is a game changer, not only to the judiciary sector, but also to the provincial capital that eyes city status by 2023.
For passers-by using Magamba Way, the main road that connects the Harare-Chirundu Highway to the central business district (CBD), the great phenomenon is hidden.
When the reporter visited the new building for the first time after its commissioning, he was astonished by the level of professionalism the staff exhibited.
From the main gate to the entrance of the building, people were being politely assisted by members of security and JSC staffers.
Although a well-scribed and bold signage is put up over the building to make navigation easy, the staff also verbally gives directions to anyone who requests them.
Its complex structure houses not only the JSC courts and staff, but other Government arms in the judiciary sector, including the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service and the National Prosecution Authority.
Court officials who spoke to The Herald, but requested anonymity, said the new building has built confidence in them.
They said the poor ablution services at the now abandoned structure were failing to cope with the number of workers and visitors, including litigants.
“We have been given back our status, and it is highly prestigious to be working at a court building like this, where we have access to a library, decent meals on site, modern equipment and technology for case handling and management,” a female staffer revealed.
“We have a Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) clinic on site, and this is world class service at its best.”
The clinic also serves litigants and members of the public attending to court business.
For local lawyers, the new building represents a new revolution in the judiciary sector within the whole province.
Mr Mike Mutsvairo of Mushonga, Mutsvairo and Associates, who is yet to represent his clients in the new court, was marvelled by the new building, courtrooms and layout of the new building.
He said, “It is obvious and crystal clear that there is a world of difference between the old court house and the new court house.
“The new courthouse is state-of-the-art, and meets international standards as to what a courthouse should be like in terms of set up.
“It is spacious, well-furnished and has the required gadgets, amenities and features.
“All the requisite, ancillary services, such as the Sheriff’s Offices, and Clerk of Courts are under one roof.”
He congratulated the JSC for completing the new courthouse after 20 years, saying it was going to assist in the effective administration of justice.
“There will be no excuse associated with lack of courtrooms in having matters heard.
“The icing on the cake is the establishment of a High Court seat, which will go a long way in minimising costs and time associated with approaching the court in Harare.”
Mr Fortune Murisi of Murisi Law Firm concurred, saying the new building inspires efficiency in justice delivery.
Chinhoyi Municipality, which eyes city status by 2023, is also optimistic that the new structure will add weight to the provincial capital’s application.
The council’s spokesperson, Mr Tichaona Mlauzi, said the multi-million dollar building was a major investment that would see the provincial capital being upgraded.
“We are quite happy about the establishment of Chinhoyi Courts Building by the JSC, especially as we have a thrust towards city status.
“Chinhoyi is the administrative centre for Mashonaland West, and most of our legal businesses are being done in Harare. So, the decentralisation of the High Court will make the area busy,” he said.
Chinhoyi houses all the Government’s provincial offices, and is home to the province’s only higher education and tertiary institution, Chinhoyi University of Technology.
A woman at the court with her daughter, who was raped recently, said, unlike the old court building, the new court was designed in such a way that gives confidence and security to complainants.
She said her daughter will not hesitate to seek justice from the man who sexually violated her.
Another woman, Mrs Mary Mufarachiya, from Mhangura, whose husband succumbed to Covid-19 a few months back, said the decentralisation of the High Court to Chinhoyi was going to make it easier for her, as she registers for her husband’s estate.
She is among many people who parted ways with a lot of money to seek High Court services in Harare.
For traditional leaders, who play a pivotal role in primary justice delivery, the new court is expected to address pending cases that they refer to the courts.
Chief Chundu, Senator Abel Mbasera, said the new building would ensure that communities in the area save from the High Court seat.
“As chiefs, we are grateful to President Mnangagwa and the Second Republic for decentralising the High Court,” he said.
The building has basement compartments, over 40 offices, eight courtrooms, eight holding cells, eight detention cells, two libraries, four kitchens, four storerooms and two strongrooms.