Justice Chiweshe (centre back row) speaking during the official opening of the 2017 legal year at Masvingo High Court last Monday
25 Jan 2017 - MASVINGO – In statement that can be seen an indictment on Zimbabwe's patriarchal justice system, Judge President George Mutandwa Chiweshe has called for Masvingo to consider appointing female assessors to the High Court.
He made the statement while officially opening the 2017 legal year at the High Court in Masvingo.
Currently, the court has four assessors namely Joseph Mushuku, Elphias Gweru, Samuel Mutombwa and Poster Dauramanzi who all concurred that working with female colleagues would be a good development.
"During the course of the 2016 legal year, we learnt with profound sadness the passing of…Mrs Shava who had put in a sterling service in the criminal justice system for many years. Mrs Shava was the only female assessor at the Harare High Court and there is none at Masvingo High Court.
"I hope considerations will be made to appoint more female assessors in line with the Constitution which calls for gender equality," Chiweshe said.
Assessors are non-lawyers who sit together with a judge to provide either expert advice or guidance on local practices. An assessor's opinion or view of a case is not binding on a judge.
The four Masvingo assessors said they would be glad if the people in authority put more effort in securing the services of female assessors.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs, Shuvai Mahofa also supported the call for gender mainstreaming in the justice system.
"Women want both justice and development at the same time. Inclusion of women in the assessors' panel would be a boost for gender equity," Mahofa said.
Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Officer Commanding Masvingo Province, Propol Snr Asst Comm Martha Mofolo said women's perspectives must be valued in the justice system.
"If a female assessor is appointed, it will actually be a milestone in the inclusion of female voices in the justice delivery system and will boost women's confidence in their abilities," Snr Asst Comm Mofolo said.news