Chief Magistrate urges speedy implementation of electronic system

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BUSINESSMAN Itai Wafawarova on Friday appeared before the Harare magistrate’s court facing charges of raping his 16-year-old daughter

By Clayton Masekesa 

MUTARE –  Chief Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi has urged urgent implementation of an electronic system in the Zimbabwean justice system to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and promote the ease-of-doing-business. 

An electronic system is currently in the works with its aim to  streamline the business processes of all the courts, enabling and capacitating litigants and lawyers among others to electronically file cases, submit all case related information and track cases throughout the entire lifecycle without the need to visit the courts physically. 

All court processes are currently limited to brick and mortar control as all papers and other simple processes depend on litigants and their representatives having to actually visit a court to file papers.

Addressing journalists in Mutare last Friday, Mutevedzi said the electronic system dubbed Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) allows for controlled exchange of data among the integrated components of the judiciary that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the judiciary.

“The IECMS shall be a unifying platform that will serve as a single point of entry for all Justice Sector institutions – Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP); National Prosecution Authority of Zimbabwe; Judiciary; Zimbabwe Correctional Services, Law Society of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders and other government institutions as deemed appropriate,” Mutevedzi said. 

He said in the Covid-19 era, unnecessary visits to court to file papers, retrieve or attend to simple matters has become a necessary evil yet most of this is actually avoidable through the electronic system. 

“The coronavirus pandemic makes the implementation and the delivery of the electronic system even more urgent since the government and the judiciary need to take measures in protecting the health and well-being of its judicial officers, staff and members of the public who use the courts,” he said.

“This factor alone speaks to Covid-19 regulations as the government struggles to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on the economy vis-a-vi new strains sprouting in different countries like South Africa, India etc,” Mutevedzi said.

He said the electronic system will be deployed in all the courts that include the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, Commercial Court, High Court, Labour Court, Administrative Court, Magistrates Court, Master of High Court and Sheriff of the High Court.

“The electronic system will streamline the business processes of all the courts and bring to the doorstep of everyone through their computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones enabling and capacitating litigants and lawyers among others to electronically file cases, submit all case related information and track cases throughout the entire lifecycle without the need to visit the courts physically,” he said. 

Mutevedzi said the courts were facing a plethora of challenges without an electronic system.

“There has been failure to provide timely and effective service delivery because manual services always require a human hand and are limited only to working hours and working days,” he said.

The electronic system will also involve online payment of court fees.

He said this allows litigants to pay for their court fees without visiting the accounts office through Ecocash, Telecash, and One money, Visa or Zimswitch.

Mutevedzi said the electronic system will strengthen the accessibility and integrity of the Zimbabwean justice system by enabling relevant parties to interface electronically with judicial bodies and services.

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