HomePoliticsLawyers slam delays in electoral petitions

Lawyers slam delays in electoral petitions

Ndamu Sandu

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has slammed the judiciary for delays in dealing with electoral petitions and human rights cases.

etica, sans-serif”>In a swift response to Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku’s assertion that the delay could be attributed to the litigants themselves, the ZLHR said such an explanation “was inconsistent and at complete variance with the research carried out by ZLHR”.

“Lawyers are generally unhappy that they experience inordinate and inexcusable delays in the setting down of cases,” the ZLHR said.

Opening the 2005 legal year on Monday, Chidyausiku said the delay in the finalisation of electoral petitions had not been caused by the court but by the petitioners and respondents who did not follow a set plan in dealing with the cases. He also said the petitioners’ interest in the cases had since “waned”.

“What is clear is that by the middle of 2002, the interest in these petitions had waned and focus shifted elsewhere,” he said.

The ZLHR said the situation was aggravated by the fact that in some instances the function of the setting down and allocation of cases to judges has been taken away from the Registrar and transferred to the Judge President.

The ZLHR said lawyers have faced impediments and delays in cases involving human rights and those perceived to have high political stakes.

“For example, such delays in delivery of judgements have been experienced in the case of the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, and the matter of Hon Roy Bennett,” the ZLHR said.

Opposition Movement for Change secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the party had not contributed in any way whatsoever to the delay in electoral petitions being set down.

“We have not contributed to the delay at all,” said Ncube. “We have done our part. There has been a miscarriage of justice in the election petitions. Imagine petitions lodged five years ago are still to be heard when the next election is due in two months time and MPs will be completing their terms of office.”

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