Chief Justice Luke Malaba on Monday condemned the austerity measures put in place by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mthuli Ncube.
Malaba said some of the measures were a threat to the rule of law. He made the remarks while officially opening the 2019 judicial year in Harare. The Chief Justice said:
I also acknowledge the policy statements and the austerity measures directed by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development and appreciate that the Judiciary will not be spared from these. It is, however, important for Treasury to take note of (some) fundamentals.
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The Judiciary, because of its nature and unlike the other two arms of State, is unable and has no means of aggressively pushing for increased budgetary allocations. This is the reason why the JSC tries to live within the means allocated to it. It will, therefore, be a self-defeating exercise for Treasury to attempt to unnecessarily ring-fence the JSC’s budget and stifle the Judiciary from accessing its budgeted funds timeously.
Any such measures are a threat to the independence of the Judiciary and to the rule of law. An independent Judiciary is one that receives enough funding to run the courts in order to protect the rights of its citizens. It is only a Judiciary that is independent which decides matters impartially without fear, favour or prejudice; and is impervious to extraneous influences.
Ncube’s austerity measures have been rejected by the generality of the public, resulting in riots in several cities and towns across the country.