Daniel Nemukuyu Investigations and Special Reports Editor
ZIMBABWE has a role to define its own destiny regarding promotion of rule of law and access to justice, with development partners only expected to render financial or technical support to implement the already crafted strategies, Chief Justice Luke Malaba has said.
He commended the cordial relations that exist between the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the European Union (EU), saying it was an ideal partnership based on mutual respect and recognition that Zimbabweans are capable of doing their own things.
EU, through the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), has been assisting the country’s justice sector since 2011 with at least US$7 million having been injected to fund projects aimed at promoting rule of law and access to justice.
Chief Justice Malaba was speaking to EU and ICJ representatives who visited him at his offices at Mashonganyika Building in Harare last Friday.
He said the burden to decide on projects to be undertaken lay with the people of Zimbabwe and development partners cannot dictate strategies on Zimbabwe’s Judiciary.
“I think that is where our relationship with EU and ICJ has always been perfect. At no time did the EU and the ICJ dictate to JSC on what programmes to pursue and on what things to be done.
“They have always told us that we have the right to determine our own destiny. They only chip in where we share the same principles and same vision,” he said.
Said the Chief Justice: “We have set up these programmes ourselves. Each of our officers in JSC understand them and they are able to explain to anybody anywhere.
“We want to ensure that the assistance is of high quality, it comes at the right time and is of good partnership, where we are regarded as people capable of doing their own things.
“If we are not able to get the assistance, we may not move at the rate we want but we will move. Let me assure you that my determination is that we must move.
“It is not like we are saying that we will stop because we are not being assisted.”
He said rule of law can only be fully enforced through implementing strategies capacitating the judiciary.
Chief Justice Malaba said development partners were important in funding the projects to ensure the rule of law objective was fully achieved.
“We are very clear about rule of law obligation. We are clear about the role of the Judiciary in Government. We are also clear on the role of the court in enforcing the rule of law. The courts are the essence of the rule of law.
“We can only give effect to that by training our magistrates, judges and other staff to ensure that our officers understand their role.
“That is when we need the help, thus the coming in of our development partners to ensure we achieve our objectives,” he said.
The Chief Justice said JSC fully understood its role in the partnerships.
“Most importantly, we as JSC, have understood the role we play in this relationship. We are the ground runners. We are the people who must ensure that we are very clear about what we want.
“Those who support us can only support us because we have clearly defined our policies. We have clearly defined our objectives as an organisation. We have clearly ensured that we maintain the values and that we measure ourselves against values, the best practice in the world.
“When you come as organisations, we need to ensure that we meet each other at that level, the level of the best,” he said.
EU Head of cooperation Ms Irene Giribaldi said her organisation was committed to funding projects aimed at promoting rule of law and access to justice for all.
Mrs Giribaldi said EU had injected US$7 million since 2011 to sponsor the Judiciary with US$2 million having been availed to fund training and other programmes between 2018 and 2020.