Judicial college expected to reopen this year

Officials are preparing to reopen the Judicial College of Zimbabwe this year, after the European Union funnelled €1.2 million (US$1.3 million) to the Harare-based institution through the Zimbabwe Judicial Service Commission, or JSC.

The college has been closed since 2008 because of a lack of funding, but plays a critical role in the country’s judiciary, training magistrates and prosecutors.

The European Union funding was raised through the offices of the International Commission of Jurists. The college has faced prolonged closure, with Zimbabwe’s weak economy and cash-strapped government making local funds hard to tap.

Speaking to University World News, college principal Rex Shana expressed hope that the European Union would continue supporting the college.

“The Judicial College was established through an act of parliament, so ordinarily the college should be funded by central government and donor funding. However, as you are aware, the country is faced with deteriorating economic conditions; therefore government will not be able to fulfil its mandate,” said Shana.

“We are grateful to the European Union for chipping in with a rescue package to resuscitate the college as part of its re-engagement process with Zimbabwe. The college will rely on donor funding for now. We hope the EU will continue supporting us until a time when government is well capacitated to take over the reins.”

The college’s acting secretary Rita Makarau said the commission was looking for more donor funding to sustain the college, confirming that it should reopen this year. “We hope over time the college will be able to run on its own and generate its own revenues.”

She expressed confidence that ultimately the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education could help fund the college, given that it was established through parliament.

Makarau said the college was currently engaging a consultant to develop a new curriculum ahead of its re-launch. “We will be training fresh magistrates and prosecutors as before, as well as offering refresher courses for the staff that we already have,” she added.

The head of the EU delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme, said the bloc was putting together a €13 million (US$14.6 million) package targeted at boosting the country’s entire judicial system, with some money benefiting the college.

“We are happy to have supported the resuscitation of the college; we are still to engage with the commission on how we can continue assisting the institution.

“However as the EU, we are planning a bigger support programme for the judicial system as a whole, which will be anchored on the key needs in the country. We are confident the college will benefit from this package as the spirit of partnership will be maintained,” he said.