The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has moved to adopt livestreaming of court proceedings in a development that is set to improve transparency and accountability in the administration of justice.
Officially opening the 2020 legal year, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said the livestreaming of court proceedings will improve public trust and debunk myths that courts are mysterious.
“This trajectory is intended to foster public trust and confidence in the court system by debunking the myth that court proceedings are esoteric and that courts want to mask their decisions,” said Malaba.
He said livestreaming of the 2018 presidential poll challenge filed by the opposition MDC Alliance demonstrated their commitment to upholding values of transparency and accountability.
“The unprecedented live broadcast of the Presidential poll petition in 2018 marked a new era for the Zimbabwean Judiciary. It demonstrated our Judiciary’s commitment to upholding the values of transparency and accountability.
“In that case I noted that live broadcast of court proceedings promotes transparency and public confidence in the justice system. Fear of sensationalism is allayed through strict regulation of the broadcasting process so as to protect the dignity of the proceedings,” added Malaba.
Zimbabwean courts are battling against public trust amid fears that the judiciary which is an independent arm of the state is captured and serving interests of those in power.
It remains to be seen if the new development will also cover independent media considering that in 2018, Malaba dismissed a Media Institute of Southern Africa application for livestreaming of Presidential elections petition.
In his ruling, Malaba said the state broadcaster ZBC had sufficient means to publicise the court proceedings.
ZBC went on to set exorbitant fees for other broadcasters who intended to tap into its live feed from court.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has been rather slow in moving with global trends with South Africa being the regional trendsetter after broadcasting live the trial of sports personality Oscar Pistorius who was convicted of murder as well former President Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial.
The magistrates’ courts have previously opened its doors to independent media to livestream the trial of MDC Alliance Vice President Tendai Biti who was charged with violating the Electoral Act.