Members of Parliament are calling for increased remuneration for judicial officers, arguing that it is crucial for ensuring efficient and impartial service in Zimbabwe’s courts.

Wedza North legislator Itai Ndudzo raised the concern during a recent Parliament session, expressing worries about the impact of inadequate salaries on judicial integrity.

Ndudzo said poor remuneration of magistrates and prosecutors poses a danger where they may end up taking bribes from accused persons to make ends meet.

“I want to address the issues that have to do with our justice delivery system. There is an order that says, he who pays the piper, chooses the tune. We must ask ourselves the question if we are not adequately reimbursing our prosecutors and our judicial officers, we must ask ourselves the sober question of how they can sustain their livelihoods,” Ndudzo said.

“In our study of jurisprudence, we learn one very critical aspect: that judges and judicial officers are human beings. They live in society, just like all of us. They purchase whatever they require for their livelihood from the same shops that we all go to, yet they have to deal with the temptation of wealthy criminals, with deep pockets who every day are dangling carrots in their faces. That affects our justice delivery system.”

Ndudzo reiterated that magistrates and prosecutors should not be excluded from payment of retention allowances.

“The exclusion of magistrates, where perhaps 90% of our people resort to, for their access to justice and matters prosecuted by our prosecutors, that exclusion must be reviewed and must be looked at as a matter of utmost urgency,” he said.

“We also know that when our courts convict offenders, fines are paid. It is saddening to note that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been excluded from benefiting from the Court Retention Fund. So, the prosecutors who do all the work make all the arguments, fight with the lawyers and fight the criminals until they secure a conviction, nothing comes to the NPA to support that great work. They must retain part of these funds.”

Ndudzo added: “We must all bear in mind one important fact, whether we are politicians or whether we are high-heeled or whether we are privileged in the society or not, we must take into cognisance one fundamental fact that we are all going to be clients of our justice delivery system, one day or the other.

“Either, we will need the services of our courts as clients being complainants and God forbid, perhaps we will need the services of our court as suspects or accused persons. What we need is to make sure that when we access our courts, justice is not just done, but justice is also seen to be done. Therefore, we must pay a fair compensation to those who operate and those who run the justice delivery system.”