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Chiefs to undergo paralegal training

Parliament is pushing for a law which will see Chiefs go for paralegal training so that they can have a better understanding of the law.

This was revealed by MDC Alliance legislator Job Sikhala at a Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) workshop with the portfolio committee on Legal and Parliament Affairs and thematic committee on Human Rights on the Justice delivery system in Zimbabwe.

“Chiefs are part of our justice system because they sit at the lowest level of our local courts,” said Sikhala

“It is therefore wise that every appointed chief should go for a six-month paralegal training so that when they are deciding over their cases they have a clear understanding of the human rights issues.

“In Terms of the law in the local courts which are led by the chiefs and Headmen, lawyers are not allowed to appear in those courts hence it is important that chiefs are trained so as to avoid violation of Human rights.”

Meanwhile, Sikhala added that that political interference is one of the critical components undermining justice delivery in Zimbabwe.

He said that the majority of Zimbabwe’s judiciary officers answer to the appointing authority rather than their call for duty.

“My own experience in Zimbabwe has shown me that people who have been appointed to preside over the judiciary matters are not independent at all”.

“If you can remember for the past four years when you ask justice Makarau a question she always says that she is answerable to the appointing authority.”

The Zengeza West MP added that judicial officers are not supposed to be the slaves of the appointing authorities but they must be able to exercise their roles as outlined in the constitution.

“Just like in South Africa the president appoints the chief justice but when it comes to the delivery of justice by that officer they sometimes go contrary to the views of the executive.

According to section 164(1) of the Zimbabwean constitution, courts are independent and are subject only to this constitution and the law which they must apply impartially, expeditiously and without fear, favour or prejudice.

Another lawyer Kudakwashe Munyoro with Women and Law in Southern Africa concurred with Sikhala saying that there is a need to separate the justice system from politics.

“Look at how long the sexual offences are taking long to be finalised in the courts whilst looting cases are finalised within hours,” said Munyoro.

“Any compromise to the independence of the judiciary system undermines the confidence of the public in the judiciary system”.

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