Lupane magistrate’s court is likely to be operational by the end of 2020, a move set to improve the province’s positive record of case completion.
Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Chiedza Gwaunza made the announcement while officially opening the 2020 legal year at the Bulawayo High Court, Monday.
The legal year is set to run under the theme: Judiciary Accountability and Transparency.
According to statistics presented by the deputy CJ, Lupane provincial court’s civil department, which was separated from the Bulawayo province last year, received a total of 746 cases and completed 745 cases, closing the year with one pending case.
Dep CJ Gwaunza said the province, in comparison to 2018, received a total of 2531 cases and completed 2480 by year-end.
She said it is also JSC’s priority for JSC to establish at least one resident court in each district of the country in the near future.
“I am happy to report that despite the fiscal pressure which dealt our projects a heavy blow, commendable progress was made at Lupane and Gwanda Magistrates’ Courts. At Lupane, all the preliminary work was finalized and construction commenced during the last half of 2019. At the rate of progress, it is projected that the courthouse will be ready for occupation by the end of 2020,” said Dep CJ Gwaunza.
“The construction of Gwanda Provincial Court which had stalled during the course of the year under review is back on course. Whilst the project may not be completed by the end of the year, significant progress is expected to have been made by that time.”
Dep CJ Gwaunza noted JSC is concerned with the long distances that some citizens travel in pursuit of judiciary services.
“It is a priority for the Commission to establish at least one resident court in each district of the country in the not too distant future. We acknowledge that residents of such places as Bulilima, Insiza, Umguza, and Mangwe still travel long distances to access justice,” she said.
The official explained that the decentralisation process of the High Court is continuous and the moment JSC is considering the modalities of implementing the next phase, after Masvingo and Mutare.
“I am advised that the choice of the next High Court station will be informed by the availability of infrastructure, but, judging from the workload at this court, it may be time to consider Gweru as the next permanent High Court seat,” said Dep CJ Gwaunza.
She added that after taking into consideration expenses people incur in travelling to Harare to access services from the Supreme Court, a decision to establish a Registry here was arrived at.