IT looks like it is no longer teachers, nurses, policemen, diplomats and other low-level civil servants in Zimbabwe alone who are unhappy with their conditions of service, but even some members of the judiciary as well.
This emerged recently when the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) panel interviewed prospective judges for the Supreme Court where interviewees inadvertently gave the public a peek into their private lives.
It is not all rosy on the bench.
When Justice Priscilla Chigumba was cornered by the chairman of the JSC, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, who queried her sense of propriety as to include him and the Judge President, Justice George Chiweshe, in her curriculum vitae (CV) as her referees when it was very clear that they two would appear prominently on the panel that would be interviewing her, she made it clear that she has been hunting for jobs in the region, a sign of dissatisfaction.
Justice Chigumba’s response was that it had been an oversight on her part, as she did not update the CV that has been accompanying her applications for jobs mainly within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
“It was an oversight on my part; I did not prepare it (CV) specifically for the purpose of this interview, but it was for other purposes… I have been applying for positions in SADC,” Chigumba explained.
Newly-appointed head of the High Court in Masvingo, Justice Joseph Mafusire, who also included Judge President Chiweshe as a referee on his CV, was also taken to task over it.
He, however, went on to reveal that he is languishing in debt and the irregular pay dates do not make his precarious situation any better when his creditors call on him, with one case involving a bank loan having been picked by the press.
Last year, while opening the 2015 legal year, Chidyausiku accused a majority of the High Court judges of being lazy, cold criticism that elicited an angry response from those judges that felt the uncharitable remarks were targeted at them.
Of these, 21 signed a strongly-worded letter of protest in which they accused the Chief Justice of misleading the nation.
“With all due respect, the Honourable Chief Justice’s speech was highly misleading,” said the judges. “In some respects it contained inaccurate and damaging analyses, impressions and conclusions, particularly with regards to the performance of the High Court in general and that of the individual judges, both named and unnamed.
“The judges are feeling humiliated, dejected and despondent.
“They feel they have lost their dignity in the eyes of the public. The morale is very low, especially given that the depressing issue of unfulfilled conditions of service was practically a footnote in the Chief Justice’s speech,” the judges complained.
In the past, some judges have quietly left the bench to go and sit on other courts in the region.
These include Justice Moses Chinhengo, who went on to sit on the High Court of Botswana bench and Justice Maphios Cheda, who is currently sitting on the Namibian High Court bench.