CJ Chidyausiku's Speech at the Opening of the 2017 Legal Year

We gather here today to mark the official opening of the 2017 Legal Year.

For each year that I have presided over the official opening of the Legal Year, I have chosen a theme for my speech.

In 2016 I applauded the cordial relationship that has developed amongst the key players in the justice delivery system and which now characterises our interaction. I pray that this cordial relationship continues to grow from strength to strength. 

The year before, that is 2015, the theme was effective justice delivery. In the course of that address I stepped on the toes of some Judges when I bemoaned the poor performance by some Judges who had delivered one or two judgments the entire previous year. I do not regret having said what I said, for the performance by all judicial officers, especially by High Court Judges, has since that date remarkably improved. In some instances, the performance of those Judges who had previously underperformed has even surpassed my expectations. There are, however, one or two Judges whose performance remains unacceptably poor. In one instance the Judicial Service Commission directed me to write a letter of reprimand to the Judge concerned. The Judicial Service Commission also made it clear that they did not accept flimsy excuses such as “I cleared all the work assigned to me”. The Judicial Service Commission also emphasised that they expected Judges to write judgments and not simply make determinations. The Judge in question was warned of disciplinary action in the event of no improved performance.

 In 2014 I had occasion to celebrate the coming into effect of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe in May and August 2013 and how the new Constitution had reshaped us as a Judiciary.

I could go on and on about the themes I have used in the immediate past. However, all I wish to do is to set the background for my departure from what has become my tradition. Today I crave your indulgence. I have no theme.

This is my valedictory speech. I have no theme. I intend to look back on a most satisfying career as Chief Justice of the Republic of Zimbabwe, pending my imminent retirement on 1 March 2017. I also wish to take this opportunity, if I may, to publicly speak to my successor on a number of issues.

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