Harare (New Ziana)– The judiciary will resist all attempts and pressure to sway it into making decisions that please the public at the expense of upholding the rule of law, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said on Monday.
His comments, during the official opening of the 2023 legal year, come in the backdrop of sustained pressure from the opposition, western governments and donor funded non-governmental organisations for the release on bail of CCC MP Job Sikhala who was arrested last year on charges of inciting public violence.
Sikhala, who has been denied bail on numerous occasions, was at one time described by Harare magistrate Tafadzwa Miti as an “incorrigible and unrepentant criminal.”
Malaba said the Judiciary would not bow down to external pressures to pass judgements that are contrary to the law.
“Where one is aggrieved by a decision made by the court, it is important to rely on the available legal processes for remedy. Insulting the courts and judicial officers will not help to have the order set aside.
“Such conduct has the effect of undermining public confidence in the Judiciary. The Judiciary is bound by the law to resist the often-insidious pressure to make decisions according to public clamour, contrary to the dictates of the facts and the applicable law,” he said.
“Similarly, when the National Prosecuting Authority exercises its mandate to decide whether to prosecute a matter or to decline to prosecute a matter, this is a mandate provided for in the Constitution and it is improper for other institutions, including the Judiciary, the Police and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, to attempt to interfere with the organ.
“The Judiciary is the last line of defence when it comes to the protection of fundamental human rights. Where the Judiciary makes a decision on a matter, whether it is the granting of bail or refusal to do so, or whether it is the conviction of a suspect or his or her acquittal in criminal proceedings, it would be highly improper for other institutions to purport to interfere with the process or make extra-judicial comments imputing corruption in the Judiciary.”
Malaba said the Judicial Services Commission was required by section 190 of the Constitution to conduct its business in a just, fair and transparent manner.
This, he said, was meant to ensure public confidence and trust in the judicial system.
“Public confidence in the judicial system is essential for maintaining peace, order and the rule of law. When the courts make decisions and are seen and allowed to perform their duties with the independence, impartiality and expedition required by the law for the resolution of disputes, public confidence in the judicial service is enhanced,” he said.