Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Live streaming of court proceedings in cases of public interest will now be a permanent feature as the Judiciary moves to promote transparency and accountability.
Speaking during the official opening of the 2020 Legal Year in Harare yesterday, Chief Justice Luke Malaba admitted that Zimbabwe has been slow in introducing live broadcasts.
He told the gathering, including judges and lawyers, the diplomatic corps and high-ranking Government officials who attended the traditional opening ceremony that the live streaming of the 2018 presidential poll petition marked a new era for the country’s Judiciary.
“It demonstrated our Judiciary’s commitment to upholding the values of transparency and accountability,” said Chief Justice Malaba.
“In that case, I noted that live broadcast of court proceedings promotes transparency and public confidence in the justice system.”
Other cases of public interest have since been broadcast live from the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Malaba said the broadcast of court proceedings is inescapable in the administration of justice.
“Few people are able to attend court proceedings at any given time, yet cases of public interest affect more than the litigants before the courts.
“They also affect the interests of a large section of society,” he said.
“Many reasons explain this. One of the most common impediments is the location of the court. For instance, the Constitutional Court only sits in Harare, yet people from all corners of the country are invariably interested in the proceedings before that court.
“This results in operations of courts being considered as secretive by the public.
“As a result, the ordinary man and woman may view the decisions of the courts with suspicion.
“The public have the opportunity to observe first-hand court proceedings as they unfold,” he said.
“They have the opportunity to learn how courts function in the process of hearing and adjudicating disputes between citizens on the one hand and citizens and the State on the other.”
The Chief Justice, however, said fear of sensationalism is allayed through strict regulation of the broadcasting process so as to protect the dignity of the proceedings.
“This trajectory is intended to foster public trust and confidence in the court system by debunking the myth that court proceedings are esoteric and that courts want to mask their decisions,” he said.