High Court bench understaffed: Judge Hungwe

The delay in passing High Court judgements has been caused by poor human resources management which has resulted in the court being understaffed, a High court judge has said.

Judge Charles Hungwe made the revelations during  the interviews for Supreme court judges held in the capital on Wednesday.

The charismatic judge was responding  to a question posed by commissioner L.M. Mhishi from the Judicial Service Commission .

“When it comes to reserved judgements, what is your view on that.

“Can we say as a Commission that we rely on the length on which someone has not been able to deliver judgements? In your case what has been your experience in dealing with this?, “asked Mhishi.

Hungwe responded:

“It’s no secret that the High Court is severely understaffed, there is more litigation that is coming up and that puts the High Court bench on tremendous pressure,” he said

He castigated the 90 day restriction standard set for the judgement by judges citing that it is too idealistic.

“If we look to the judicial code of conduct for Zimbabwe judges, it speaks to 90 days but I think it’s too idealistic and too hopeful for various reasons.”

“Not every case is the same so that you can use 90 days as a standard to measure judge’s capacity to deliver judgement,” he said.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba however interrogated  Hungwe  and questioned him if he was rubbishing the standard restriction for the delivery of judgement.

He cited Hungwe’s case in point stating that  he has eight reserved judgements with a delay of three years and seven months.

“Your explanation about the value of speedy delivery of judgements, you seem to rubbish or set a situation where you’re saying the restriction for delivery of judgement is not appropriate.”

“We have here statistics that show that you have eight reserved judgements which date in delay between three years and seven months,” said Malaba.

Hungwe justified his delay in passing judgments citing that even the Supreme Court delays judgements and that cannot used as a yardstick to  measure the capability of the judge.

Hungwe is one of the five judges vying for elevation into the Supreme Court bench.