Zim Justice System, Not A Captured Sector
9 March 2023
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By Dr Masimba Mavaza-Once again, the total disrespect of our judiciary system reared its ugly head after the High Court ruled against an opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) member of parliament against the reputable Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The usual suspects took to Twitter to confuse the people of Zimbabwe, accusing the judge of not seeing how they see things.

High Court judge Never Katiyo dismisses the application by Harare North Member of Parliament Alan Makharm demanding the release of the voter’s Roll.

The editors of several newspapers sought to sensationalize the judgement by saying the court refused Zimbabweans to inspect the Voters Roll.

The judge raised security concerns, saying ZEC is mandated to safeguard voter’s Roll, the predominantly electronic one, claiming it can be tampered with “in this age of social media”. But instead of explaining the judgement and the reason why the judge ruled that way, the lawyer for Markham said:
This is a life matter; we still need ZEC to give us, the people of Zimbabwe, a voter’s Roll,” Alan Markham’s lawyer Denford Halimani outside the High Court in Harare. He continued to say
“ZEC has refused to handover voter’s roll to the Harare North MP since request made 145 days ago” This is once again a misleading explanation by a man of justice.

The facts in Rusty Markham v Zec are that the applicant is the CCC Mt Pleasant North Member of Parliament. The applicant approached the high court seeking an order declaring as unlawful the action by ZEC of refusing to give an electronic voter roll to him. He argued that it is his right as a citizen and legislator. He stated that he wanted to analyze the errors, delimitations and trends. He further contends that the hard copy needs to be more bulky and convenient to use than an electronic one. ZEC insisted that they are still putting security measures as mandated by the Law, that is, section 21(7) of the Electoral Act.
Further, it is still premature for the applicant to rush to court when engagement is still ongoing. In analyzing the above, the court agrees with ZEC that they are mandated to safeguard the voters’ Roll given the security concern envisaged by the section cited above. They didn’t refuse perse, but they are in the process of putting the security measures. In any case, 58 day’s wait cannot be considered unreasonable. In the final analysis, the case came to court prematurely before exhausting the alternative remedies available. In light of that, the application did not succeed, and it therefore failed. It was consequently dismissed with no order as to costs.
This did not go well with the CCC foot soldiers, who took it to Twitter denouncing the judgement.
Leading the pack of justice abusers was Hopewell Chin’ono, who sought to undermine the court by saying that they were not ready to handle elections.
In a contemptuous Twitter, CHIN’ONO said
“Justice Never Katiyo has dismissed a Voters Roll release application by Harare North MP Alan Markham.
The judge strangely raised security concerns when an electronic voters roll when the constitution says it should be made available by @ZECzim to any Zimbabwean needing it.”
Mr CHIN’ONO tried his best to expose his total ignorance of the Law. He chose what he wanted people, especially his handlers, to know. He aimed to undermine the Zimbabwean justice system. He, in other words, is trying to make a case against any future ruling should the election result end up in court. It is a calculated attack on the rule of Law.
Another CCC foot soldier vented his frustration on Hopewell CHIN’ONO Twitter. “Dr @PedzisaiRuhanya is correct when he says; “If I suggest something here on Zimbabwe politics and it fails, I must have the dignity to accept my failed propositions than to point fingers at everyone bar myself continuously.”
“Going to court was never a bright idea. You pushed it now we lost and you are on top of the nearest mountain blaming the opposite for everything and not the captured justice system.”
@ZECzim will now say the court says we don’t have to avail the voters’ Roll.
Just like you campaigned for ZanuPf blaming the opposition for everything in 2018, you are blaming the opposition for everything in 2023 but under the guise of ‘advice’.”
Since you advised the opposition on going to court, at least have the decency of not blaming them for the results of judiciary capture!
And for tweeting this, you will blame me for bootlicking and gatekeeping. OK!”

This is clearly a contemptuous Twitt accusing the courts of capture. Such Twitts will never Ber Twitted in America or the United Kingdom, but the CCC members enjoy insulting the judiciary. This is a middle finger towards the rule of Law.
The rule of Law is arguably the most basic requirement of any civilized society, and an independent judiciary, to which access is available to all citizens, is an essential ingredient of the rule of Law. Freedom of expression is also fundamental in a democratic society, in which the courts and the media have vital and complementary institutional roles. Together, they hold power to account, enforce the rights of individuals and shed light on matters of public interest – and they also monitor each other.
The media have been described as the watchdogs of democracy, highlighting democratic deficits and demanding accountability from elected officials. And judges have no more important role than holding the Government to account when it does not adhere to the Law, uphold the rights of individuals, and give accurate and correct judgements; there is no more vital right than freedom of expression.
If a journalist like CHIN’ONO insults the justice system just because the ruling does not favour him, the rule of Law is under attack. He must research and ask for advice before rushing to Twitt’s falsehoods. The court did not say ZEC should not avail the voters’ Roll. The court said ZEC must be given time to prepare and put safety catches around the soft copy.
When a judicial system is correctly calibrated, the Law is applied by judges fearlessly, without favour and with respect. That is why judicial security of tenure is so fundamental: it ensures that a judge’s ability to stay in the post does not depend on pleasing the Government or the opposition.
Judicial independence ensures, in particular, that judges are free to conclude that actions taken or decisions made by the Government (or even by others) are in breach of the Law and that they are in particular in violation of individual’s rights, including of course their fundamental, or human, rights – and to decide on the appropriate remedy.
The idea of blaming judges and questioning their ethical responsibilities is seen by many
as impugning their integrity and their common sense. In particular, the distinction between the ethical requirements of public office and the legitimate sphere of political judgment needs to be better understood.
Government acts only within the scope permitted by the Law. The courts are often the only avenue through which this can be achieved in the light of their unique powers and institutional separation from the legislature and the executive. Judicial integrity and independence must be a priority in the fight to secure human rights at the domestic level. Hence the need for the total respect of the judges and courts.
In recent years, the freedom of the media and biased reporting by journalists have undermined the rule of Law. For instance, journalists and media outlets are now spreading “fake news” or other spurious offences.
The judiciary and the media have this in the joint. Unless they are undermined or silenced, they pose a genuine threat to democracy, create undemocratic regimes, and inspire fear in those who wish to retain or consolidate their power. The judiciary should be a bulwark against efforts to undermine freedoms.
A decision must be made. The facts have been assembled, and the arguments for and against the options are spelt out, but no clear evidence supports any particular one. Now people around the table turn to the judge. What they’re looking for is good judgment—an interpretation of the evidence which is available. Judgment is the ability to combine personal qualities with relevant knowledge and experience to form opinions and make decisions. It is “the core of exemplary leadership” judgement that enables a sound choice without clear-cut, relevant data or an obvious path. To some degree, we can all form views and interpret evidence. What we need, of course, is sound judgment.
Insulting judges is a foolish way of forcing the system to rule in favour of the losing.
The Zimbabwean judicial system is independent.