Zimbabwe embraces technological changes in the legal sector

Zimbabwen President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chief Justice Luke Malaba

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (ADV) – Zimbabwe have welcomed the recently-gazetted Magistrates (Civil) Courts Rules that allows serving of court documents through electronic means, the Herald has reported.

The move which came into effect on February 1 has been described as a bolder move towards embracing information communication technology.

Wellington Pasipanodya of Manase & Manase Legal Practitioners expressed gratitude towards the development saying the new technology will ensure cases are expeditiously dealt with.

“The new rules as well as this provision (electronic service) are a welcome development in line with the international standard of embracing ICT and the digital age,” said Pasipanodya. “Further, this proviso also effectively deals with litigants who try to evade service of process, and those who employ delaying tactics in an effort to frustrate the other party.”
The Statutory Instrument 11 of 2019 simplifies the rules of the court in wide reforms that will promote access to, and the dispensation of justice, in an evolving environment.

Among other positive developments, the new rules provide for service by telegraph, telefacsimile or electronic mail.

Order 7 of the rules states that service by electronic means should be given the same weight with the usual physical service.

“Any process for service may be transmitted by telegraph, telefacsimile or electronic mail and a telegraphic, telefacsimile or electronic mail copy that is served in any of the ways prescribed in this Order shall be of the same effect as if the original had been so served,” reads part of the new rules.
Gwinyai Shumba of Madotsa & Partners Legal Practitioners hailed the country’s justice system for moving with the times thereby ensuring access to justice in line with the 2013 Constitution.

Another legal expert Mrs Tambudzai Gonese-Manjonjo, who is based in South Africa, described the development as a progressive move.

Meanwhile, the test-run on the feasibility of the introduction of the electronic case management system was a success and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is now working on the implementation of the system countrywide.

JSC will now implement the project to ensure every court station has an electronic system which tracks all the papers from the time of filing up to the completion of the case.

The JSC’s dream is to introduce a paperless filing system which is convenient to all litigants and other stakeholders in the justice delivery system.

Addressing legal practitioners and judicial officers at a recent Bar-Bench Colloquium in Victoria Falls, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who is also Judicial Service Commission (JSC) chairperson, said he would soon appoint a committee to oversee the implementation of the new system.

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