HARARE – The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) says court appeals should not be used as a time-buying tactic, adding that improved service delivery has helped in clearing the case backlog dating back to 2006.
Walter Chikwanha, the chief registrar, yesterday told the Daily News that it was the commission’s intention to reduce the number of months that a case takes between the date of filing and the date of hearing in court.
“At the beginning of the year, we had cases going as way back as 2006,” Chikwanha said. “Now most of the appeals that we are setting down were filed with the Supreme Court in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
“It is our wish to ensure that appeals are not used as a time-buying tactic by litigants who would have lost in the lower courts but seek recourse to the superior court of justice.”
The JSC said the introduction of Chikwanha’s office had brought significant improvements in the Supreme and the Constitutional Court.
“The improvements that are being noticed are a direct result of the establishment of this office, which now co-ordinates the operations of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court in addition to supervising the functions of the High, Labour and Administrative Courts,” JSC said in a statement.
The work of the two superior courts has also been catapulted by an increase in the number of judges of appeal from five to nine.
This has ensured that the court sits everyday of the week, opposed to the previous arrangement, where it would sit three days per week.
Wednesdays have been reserved for the hearing of constitutional matters.
Chikwanha said at the beginning of the year, there were 233 pending appeals in the Supreme Court, while a further 248 were filed during the course of the year.
“To date there are 119 pending matters, meaning that the backlog has been reduced by 114 cases, which is a reduction rate of 49 percent,” Chikwanha said.
JSC also prides itself in the refurbishment of the Mashonganyika Building, where Supreme and constitutional matters are heard.
Chikwanha said arrangements were underway to buy a public address system for the spacious court.