The Sunday News
Peter Matika, Senior Reporter
COURT buildings in Matabeleland South and North are nearing completion, a move set to improve access to justice in the two provinces.
Speaking during the official opening of the 2020 legal year on Monday in Bulawayo, Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza said last year the Judicial Services Commission embarked on an infrastructural refurbishment initiative, which has recorded commendable progress on the construction of courts in Gwanda and Lupane.
“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 finalised and construction commenced during the last half of 2019. The progress at the site is very encouraging. At that rate of progress, it is projected that the courthouse will be ready for occupation by the end of 2020,” said Justice Gwaunza.
She also noted that construction of Gwanda provincial court which had stalled during the course of 2019 was 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. We acknowledge that residents of places like Bulilima, Insiza, Umguza and Mangwe still travel long distances to access justice. 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,” said Justice Gwaunza.
She said the decentralisation of the High Court was a continuous process and that JSC was considering the modalities of implementing the next phase, after Masvingo and Mutare.
“I am advised 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 Justice Gwaunza.