COMMENT:Let’s act on judicial sector salaries to stem corruption Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi

CORRUPTION is a major cancer in Africa, contributing to stunted economic growth, poor governance systems, dilapidating infrastructure and failing public administration systems. 

In Zimbabwe, a number of intervention measures have been put in place to rid the national fibre of corruption, with the latest being the announcement by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi that Government is addressing working conditions for judicial officers and reviewing their salaries.

The move is part of efforts to stem the high turnover of skilled staff and curb corruption in the country’s justice delivery system. 

Previously, Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has bemoaned the continued loss of manpower due to low salaries. 

In January, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said in 2021 the JSC lost 88 members of staff, including 18 magistrates because of poor remuneration. 

Addressing key stakeholders during a dinner hosted by JSC in Bulawayo to mark 12 years of its existence last Friday, Minister Ziyambi said: “The welfare of the judiciary is important to us as Government. When we have all our systems working very well, we should also be able to pay our judicial officers a very good salary because we don’t want them to end up engaging in corrupt tendencies.

“At the moment we are in negotiations and also engaging the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and something is being done in that regard. Government values the contribution that our judicial officers are making to the country’s justice system.”

Chief Justice Luke Malaba

Last week, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) arrested the Sheriff of the High Court, McDuff Madega for suspected criminal abuse of office and the illegal sale of properties attached by the courts.

Scholars Michael Bratton and Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi in 2016 argued that corruption is one of the largest impediments to economic growth, human development, and alleviation of poverty in Africa. Further, corruption hurts the poor and vulnerable most. 

McDuff Madega

It is, therefore, without doubt that corruption needs to be dealt with swiftly and severely, albeit within the ambits of the law. 

The major milestone in the fight against corruption in Zimbabwe is the creation of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) which was established, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission Act (Chapter 9:22): “To provide for the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission in order to combat corruption, and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.”

Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission

According to the Act, this is in line with the signing the SADC Protocol Against Corruption on the 14th of August, 2001 in Blantyre, Malawi, which “accepted that corruption is a serious problem that needs to be tackled as a matter of extreme urgency, and committed themselves to fight corruption and undertaken to put in place measures and mechanisms that would eliminate the scourge of corruption.”

It is, therefore, pleasing to note that Government is taking the plight of judicial workers seriously. The police and ZACC are of no relevance if there is corruption at the courts. 

Improving working conditions for judicial officers and reviewing their salaries will go a long way in ending corruption and is also a huge step in promoting economic growth, improving governance systems and protecting public infrastructure.

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