Heal Zimbabwe commends the Judicial Service Commission for designating trial magistrates for politically motivated violence and intimidation cases. The trial magistrates have been distributed across nine provinces. The declaration by the JSC is in terms of Section 133J (3) of the Electoral Act (Chapter2:13). The magistrates will deal with cases before during, and after the harmonized elections.
Heal Zimbabwe notes that the deployment of trial magistrates is a positive step that will ensure that victims of political violence have access to justice. If the plan is well adhered to, it will help reduce cases of political violence that have been fueled by a culture of impunity especially within local communities.
However, it is Heal Zimbabwe’s view that appointing trial magistrates ahead of the elections alone is not enough. Addressing political violence requires multiple involvement of stakeholders such as the church, civil society, Independent Commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and political parties.
In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe implores the JSC to promote and facilitate the independence and accountability of the judiciary and the efficient, effective and transparent administration of justice in Zimbabwe in compliance with section 190 (2) of the constitution. Political parties must also join the crusade of campaigning for peace ahead of elections.