Government lawyers in Zimbabwe are earning “starvation wages” resulting in them compromising their professionalism. Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa said on average lawyers are earning US$300 per month. Teachers, meanwhile have been warned of salary freeze.
He said “Judges are being paid US$300 which to me is starvation wages
and that undermine their morale”. Many lawyers, like other professionals have long left the country for greener pastures in Europe and countries within southern Africa due to deteriorating living conditions.
Added Chinamasa, “We know for a fact that in the justice delivery system there are no computers, the systems are not computerised and transport affects the whole system. These constraints have contributed to no meaningful supervision on performance of the judicial system currently taking place,” he said. However, he gave no indication of attempts to improve the working conditions only to admit that there is rampant corruption in the prosecution, magistracy and legal profession.
In 2007, magistrate and other judicial officers embarked on a strike, the first time since gaining independence from Britain in 1980 to press for more pay and improved working. The industrial action lasted for two months virtually paralysed operations at the magistrates courts throughout the country. Zimbabwe’s Judge President Rita Makarau has often criticised the government for undermining the judiciary by starving it of resources and reducing it to “begging for its sustenance”.
Meanwhile, government has warned striking teachers that they would not
be paid in October if they do not call off their industrial action. Teachers have been on strike since schools opened on 2 September for the third term demanding a salary increase and changes in working conditions.
Said Education Minister David Coltart, “I am sure they will be given this month’s salary but if the strike continues, the Public Service Commission will likely halt the payment in October. Obviously, the PSC can’t agree to pay workers who are not reporting for duty,” Coltart said the teachers should report for duty and assist Ordinary and Advanced Level pupils who will be sitting for public examinations next month.