Zimbabwean lawyers have lashed out at the government for its decision to spend thousands of pound sterling on importing wigs made in England for local judges.
The Judicial Services Commission placed an order for 64 wigs from Stanley Ley Legal Outfitters in London, at a cost of £118,400, according to a Guardian report.
Chief executive officer of Bulawayo-based rights organisation Habakkuk Trust, Dumisani Nkomo, said:
These are misplaced priorities. We need to focus on bread and butter issues and avoid expenditure on unnecessary luxuries.
A prominent Harare lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa had this to say:
What surprises me in Zimbabwe is that we say everything against colonialism but we live more colonial than the colonisers themselves.
A normal litigant would be intimidated to get into a courtroom full of ridiculously dressed judges. Why can we not dress decently? If we want to wear wigs, why can’t we make them in our own way? Those wigs were meant for white judges – we look ridiculous.
A human Rights lawyer, Doug Coltart, said that the thousands of pounds spent on wigs should be used for rehabilitation of dilapidated court buildings. He said:
In my view, it’s a bit unnecessary. From an ideological point of view, those wigs take us back to the colonial era. They make our courts inaccessible by the ordinary man. If the judicial services commission spends that money on rehabilitating dilapidated courts, that would make a lot of sense.
However, Chief Justice Luke Malaba has insisted on the use of the wigs during proceedings.
Meanwhile, some wigs, made from horse hair, were delivered last week according to reports.