Judge recruitment processes under spotlight

by | Jun 17, 2021 | Crime & Courts | 0 comments

Hosia Mviringi

Zimbabwe has had three judicial tribunals since the beginning of the year, all to investigate the conduct and suitability of judges to continue serving the esteemed office of judge.

It is perhaps unprecedented in the history of the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe, as the nation has witnesses an incremental erosion of ethics and integrity within the judiciary system.

Judges have found themselves under the spotlight for the wrong reasons on many occasions this year.
This has led to questions being asked on whether the recruitment processes in places are bringing the right candidates into the judiciary, specifically to preside over important matters.

The Zimbabwe Constitution of 2013 brought some changes to the way Judges are recruited to the bench.
It brought a system that was touted by proponents as ‘democratic’ as it involved public interviews of prospective Judges, with the President only limited to appointing only the best.

However, questions have been asked on whether or not the academically gifted and eloquent candidates are the best to hold the office of a judge.
Tateguru Tv asked the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Honourable Ziyambi Ziyambi if he believes that the current system was the best for staffing the bench.

“But again you must also appreciate that we changed the appointment procedure for judges and we are now having public interviews, and it’s now open. So it could be that, because of that, we are now getting into the judiciary some officers who perhaps should not be there.
Some would have performed better in interviews, but good performance in an interview does not always translate to a good performance at work, that’s my take,” quipped Minister Ziyambi.

Minister Ziyambi said this could be the time for an objective review of the systems that culminate in the appointment of a judge.
“An interview is just but one of the things you use to find out if a person is suitable for a position, but it’s not everything.
So perhaps there is need for us to interrogate between the old system or procedure and what we have now, to see the best criteria that can be used to select our judges, he said.

He noted this as the most eminent reason why the country is experiencing an unusually high number of tribunals.
However, Justice Ziyambi also attributed the current flurry of investigative tribunals to improving legal literacy in the country.
He attributed it to increased awareness by members of the public to the available avenues of recourse if they notice any misconduct by officers of the judiciary, leading to eventual investigation of cases of misconduct by judicial officers.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Service Commission is calling on the public to nominate qualified persons for appointment as Judges and the Commission seeks to fill up nine posts following the elevation of judges to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts.

With the power vested in him by the Constitution of Zimbabwe through the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment number 2 Act of 2021, the President will appoint Judges to the High Court in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.