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HomeSéparateurFocusSéparateurAfricaSéparateurZimbabweSéparateurVisit of a UIHJ delegation to Zimbabwe (16-18 February 2006)
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Visit of a UIHJ delegation to Zimbabwe (16-18 February 2006)

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On an invitation by Sheriff Bonny Nhamburo, President of the Zimbabwe Association of Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of Court, an UIHJ delegation visited Zimbabwe from 16th to18th February 2006.

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26 professionals in Zimbabwe

The delegation consisted of the First Vice-President of the UIHJ, Leo Netten, Board Member Johan Fourie and Robbie Schilz, UIHJ representative for Southern Africa.
The delegation arrived at Harare International Airport at noon on February 16th, and was met by the Executive of the Zimbabwe Association, and after lunch proceeded to a meeting with a number of the Sheriffs and Messengers of Zimbabwe.
At this meeting, on the afternoon of the 16th February 2006, chaired and introduced by Bonny Nhaburo, a number of matters of mutual interest were discussed, including, for the benefit of the UIHJ delegation, an outline in regard to the practice of a Sheriff or Messenger of Zimbabwe, and also a very interesting but disturbing picture of the problems faced by the profesionals in Zimbabwe, greatly as a result of inflation exceeding 800% p.a.
In regard to the structure of the profession in the Republic of Zimbabwe it appeared that nine deputy Sheriffs held appointments in the nine districts in respect of High Court Jurisdiction, of whom seven also held appointment as Messenger of the Court.
In total there were twenty-six professionals in Zimbabwe, made up as follows: 2 appointees as Deputy Sheriffs only, 7 Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of the Court as joint appointments, 17 Messengers of the Court serving only the lower Court.

High inflation rate

It was stated at the meeting that good co-operation was enjoyed from the police force as also the Department of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
In regard to problem areas a number of matters were mentioned for example, late payment or non-payment by certain Attorneys, which, in view of the escalating inflation posted a serious problem.
It was stated that accounts are usually only settled after sixty days, and in some cases payment was only made after one hundred and eighty days. In view of inflation running, at the time of the visit of the UIHJ delegation, in excess of eight hundred percent, the loss of value in the payment received months after rendering of service, is obvious. Appointments of Sheriffs are made for a period of ten years. Sheriffs may have their contracts renewed if the service rendered to the legal profession and the Courts was satisfactory.
It was however stated that no formal form of discipline existed but that the Association of Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of the Court were busy drafting a code of conduct and negotiating with the Government of Zimbabwe in regard to having a clear simple and expedient disciplinary code.
In regard to assistant Deputy Sheriffs or assistant Messengers of Court it was stated that the Deputy Sheriff or the Messenger of the Court appointed their own staff, and only advised the Registrar of the High Court or the local Magistrate, as the case may be, of such appointment.

Meeting with the minister of justice and the Chief Justice of the Republic of Zimbabwe

The representatives of the Zimbabwe Institute who attended this meeting consisted of the Chairperson Bonny Nhamburo, Deputy Chair Dawid Matipano, the Deputy Sheriff of Harare, Stuard Magudze, the Deputy Sheriff and Messenger of the Court of Karoi, Smart Mojo, Messenger of the Court of Harare and Executive Member of the Zimbabwe Institute and Vongai Makamure the Executive Secretary to the Association of Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of the Court.
On the 17th February 2006 the delegation met the Master of the High Court Charles Nyatanga, who is also the Registrar of the High Court and the Sheriff of Zimbabwe. There after the delegation had the honour of meeting the Chief Justice of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and have a meeting with the Honourable P.A. Chinamasa, the Minister of Justice, Legal & Parliamentary Affairs, and during both visits accompanied by the committee members of the Zimbabwe Association.
Leo Netten informed the Minister of Justice, as he had subsequently advised the Chief Justice as also the Master of the High Court, in regard to the formation and ideals of the UIHJ, and also referred to the expected confirmation of full membership of the Association of Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of the Court during the tri-annual congress of the UIHJ Washington April 2006. Leo Netten referred to the high standard of Sheriffs and Messengers of Court, but indicated that ongoing training was necessary and also made mention of the International schools conducted under the guidelines of the French National School of Procedure. The Ohada Treaty was also discussed by Leo Netten and fully explained by Johan Fourie. Reference was also made to debt collection in respect of which the conflict of interest was raised by one of the members of the Zimbabwe Association.

Assisting Zimbabwe with training

The Chief Judge thanked Leo Netten for the enlightening information and also took the opportunity to welcome the UIHJ delegation to Zimbabwe. He stated that although Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of Court were not the bearers of good news their profession was very important because without effective back up the administration of Justice could not function. He was also delighted to hear about the intention of assisting Zimbabwe with training and also in regard to the formal structure of a disciplinary procedure - however it was noted that the informal system being developed between the Zimbabwe Association and the Government of Zimbabwe was working well.
In regard to debt collection the Chief Judge stated that he found the proposal very interesting as this could bring about sanity, order and integrity in regard to the debt collection process. He mentioned that numerous complaints are received from the public about the way in which they have experienced the actions of debt collectors, which are presently not regulated in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Association should therefore take this matter further. The Chief Judge also again highlighted the link between the High Court and the Deputy Sheriff, and the Magistrate's Court and the Messenger of the Court, and that he supported an independent profession of Law enforcers, and that is how it should be.
The Hague convention on cross border service of civil documents was well received by the Minister, The Chief Judge and the Registrar and the Zimbabwe Association will follow up this matter with the Zimbabwe Justice Department.
The Minister, The Chief Judge and the Registrar were also delighted to hear about the involvement of the Zimbabwe Association of Deputy Sheriffs and Messengers of the Court with the UIHJ and that in view of the global village Zimbabwe should remain involved.
The Chief Judge concluded by repeating his welcome to the UIHJ delegation.
The delegation was hosted to dinner by both the Justice Department and the Zimbabwe Association, and taken around for some sight seeing by Bonny Nhamburo and his Executive, and left Zimbabwe after an interesting and informative visit.
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