JUSTICE, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi yesterday officially opened the virtual court at the Harare Magistrates Court, where he implored the Judiciary Services Commission (JSC) to open satellite courts in rural areas.
Minister Ziyambi in his opening remarks, said he noted that people living in rural areas were travelling long distance to access justice delivery systems hence the need to construct courts in their respective areas.
He also said that his ministry is in the process of aligning the legislative framework to allow virtual sittings in all courts.
“Allow me ladies and gentlemen, to also advise that my Ministry is in the process of aligning the current legislative framework to provide for virtual court sittings in both civil and criminal cases.
“As I speak, the Judicial Laws Amendment Bill seeking the amendment of the Constitutional Court Act, Supreme Court Act, High Court Act, Labour Court Act, Administrative Court Act and the Magistrates’ Court Act to provide for virtual sittings was peer reviewed and will be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
“However, as a stop gap measure, the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (No 2) (Amendment) Order, 2021 (No 34) published in Statutory Instrument 228B of 2021 will be used as the legal framework allowing Criminal Courts to sit virtually in the period of the Covid-19 lockdowns,” he said.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba revealed that the JSC will open a virtual Commercial Court in May this year and equipment has been installed in Chinhoyi, Marondera and Bindura for opening of virtual courts in those areas.
“We are undertaking a massive exercise, a national exercise. It is no longer a JSC project, but an exercise by the Government. They are calling it Electronic Integrated Case Management System.
“There is no longer talk, we explained enough and there is now action. “People are on the ground. Let’s make mistakes when were are doing.
“There is huge projects that by May, there is a new baby coming called Commercial Court which will bring people from outside.”
“For the first time it will be standing on its own saying to the world, there were are, come and invest we have a justice system that can protect your investment.
“The justice system that is virtual. You don’t need to come to Zimbabwe to file papers. People can lead evidence from wherever they are.
“Come in May that will be the new system.
“I can disclose to you that in line with that development, today we have necessary equipment for this programme of virtual courts.
“It is no longer theory. We now have the equipment and we have now installed at Harare Remand Prison, Chikurubi Maximum Prison and Harare High Court.
“I can also now disclose that virtual court have now been installed at Chinhoyi, Bindura and Marondera magistrates as well as at their respective prisons in those provinces,” he said.
Justice Malaba implored the Government to support the programme saying they should not wait for outsiders to extend their help to the Judiciary.
“What we are doing actually dovetails into the National Development Strategy,” he said.
Justice Malaba said there was need for transformation to attain quality justice delivery.
“One of the means of ensuring effective and efficient delivery of justice is change of mind.
“We need to transform how we do our things. We cannot continue to do things in the same manner that we did them yesterday. We must change. This is where we are,” he said.
Justice Malaba thanked various stakeholders they are working with in the programme for their support.Herald.