The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is working to complete the construction of the Lupane Magistrates Courts by the end of the year while work on the Gwanda Provincial Court has begun after stalling for years due to shortage of funds.

This was revealed by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza when she officially opened the 2020 legal year at the Bulawayo High Court on Monday.

“Last year, we embarked on an aggressive infrastructure refurbishment and construction programme as part of our access to justice initiatives. I am happy to report that despite the fiscal pressure which dealt our projects a heavy blow, commendable progress was made at Lupane and Gwanda Magistrates’ Courts,” Justice Gwaunza said.

She said at Lupane, all the preliminary work was finalised and construction commenced during the last half of 2019.

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“The progress at the site is very encouraging. At that rate of progress, it is projected that the courthouse will be ready for occupation by the end of 2020,” she said.

“The construction of Gwanda Provincial Court which had stalled during the course of the year under review is back on course.”

She said while the project may not be completed by the end of the year, significant progress is expected to have been made by that time.

Justice Gwaunza lamented that some people in remote rural areas were travelling long distances to access justice as there were no courts close to their places.

“We acknowledge that residents in places such as Bulilima, Insiza, Umguza and Mangwe still travel long distances to access justice. It is a priority for the commission to establish at least one resident court in each district of the country in the not-too-distant future,” she said.

“The decentralisation of the High Court is a continuous process. The commission is currently considering the modalities of implementing the next phase, after Masvingo and Mutare.”