Chief Justice Luke Malaba has applauded the newly launched Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) which aims to improve access to the justice system as well as enhancement of efficiency and the rule of law.
The system which marks the genesis of a new age in the history of the Judiciary, will not only link the various courts in Zimbabwe electronically but will offer an integration platform with key stakeholders who include Law Firms, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the National Prosecuting Authority, the office of the Attorney General, Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, Registrar’s office and self-represented actors amongst others.
Chief Justice, while officiating at the launch of the event last week, said these stakeholders will enjoy access to specified information and services.
“The services will include storage of legal information such as judgments, statutes and case law, electronic filing of court documents, electronic service of documents, e-payments of court fees, an online calendaring system and virtual hearings.
“This contemporary system of doing business will do away with the traditional means of administering justice that have become incompatible with the exponentially increasing demand for court services and the constitutional obligation of ensuring an efficient judiciary.
“Going forward, we will definitely have in place a collaborative and well-coordinated way of doing things that will transform justice in Zimbabwe into an efficient and effective integrated justice delivery system,” Malaba said.
Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, in a speech read on his behalf, noted that the Integrated Electronic Court Management System will enable Zimbabwe to accomplish the option to work remotely without any major disruptions.
He further stated that the introduction of electronic justice is fundamental to the maintenance of the rule of law and the achievement of efficient justice delivery.
“It is my fervent hope that this is not the end but the beginning of future developments and innovative ideas. This, in turn, will accelerate Zimbabwe’s quest to achieve world-class justice for its citizens and an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.
“A non-efficient judicial system is a threat to the rule of law, a principle which is key to the enforcement and upholding the constitution. It is on this basis that we will continue advocating for the availing of funds by the government to ensure the full implementation of the system. The steps taken by the JSC are self-evident of the capabilities they possess as the custodians of our judiciary, an obligation entrusted to them by the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Ziyambi said.
The IECMs are primed to create a fertile and palatable environment for the fruition of vision 2030, enshrined in our National Development Strategy 1.
Ziyambi is of the belief that digital justice will ensure the Ease of Doing Business in the second republic, by significantly reducing costs associated with obtaining justice services in our jurisdiction and improving Zimbabwe’s ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Ranking.
Police Commissioner-General, Godwin Matanga reiterated that the implementation of the IECMS will see an acceleration of their investigation processes.
“As it stands, so much time is spent by police officers following up on cases at court stations, retrieving warrants of arrest, making applications for a warrant of search and seizure amongst other things which processes in this day and age should be handled electronically.
“Further, what is exciting about this innovative development is that the integration of the JSC database with that of the police, will not only improve efficiency by enhancing information accessibility but will also serve as an analytical tool to monitor our work progress.
However, Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika said lack of judicial independence and absence of impartiality was the elephant in the room for the country’s judicial system.
Kika said Malaba’s speech emphasised the new e-filing system and ignored real issues affecting the country’s justice delivery system.
He said ICT alone cannot be used as the vanguard for the promotion of the rule of law in the country.
“Thus, while the development of a culture of efficiency in the administration of justice is crucial, the enhancement, growth or enhancement, efficacy, and long-term survival of the rule of law in a constitutional democracy cannot be sustained by digitisation alone,” Kika said.
He added that the importance of fostering public confidence in the sanctity and independence of the judiciary is what is more important.
“The efficiency of the justice delivery system should also be guaranteed to safeguard the rights of a citizen through appointment and independence of the Judiciary.
“Of the three branches of government, it is the Judiciary that carries the greatest burden to ensure that rule of law prevails. The rule of law is the hallmark of any civilized and democratic society,” Kika said.