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Judiciary Spends 74%Of Its Budget

By:Fransina Nghidengwa
The judiciary has spent 74% of funds allocated, the Chief Justice Peter Shivute said at the official opening of the legal year at the Supreme Court in Windhoek on Wednesday.
Chief Justice Shivute said the performance of the Judiciary in the year 2022 should be seen against the backdrop of the overall depressed state of the nation’s public finances.
“Doubtless, this had a negative impact on all public services,” he pointed out.
“For the last financial year, just as in the previous years, the Office recorded a high budget execution rate of 74% as we spent N$ 288 078 822 of the total funds allocated,” he said.
Another bright feather in our cap is that during the period under review we received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor-General, he said.
For the 2022-2023 financial year, the Office of the Judiciary received a budgetary allocation of N$369,48 million. After the mid-term budget review, the amount was increased by N$17.2m to N$386.714 million, which is N$11.14 million short of the amount required by the Judiciary, Shivute pointed out.
Shivute said there were 741 employees on the payroll as by 31 December 2022, a figure which excludes judicial officers.Of that number, he said, 64% were female.
He further stated that on 31 March 2022, the office of the Judiciary had unpaid invoices totaling N$1.8 million in respect of essential recurrent expenditures such as witness fees which were carried over to the 2022-2023.
“Another setback was that no budgetary provision was made for the filling of critical vacant posts for judicial officers and staff members. This distressful situation is bound to affect our ability to offer improved services to the public when, as expected, the Legislature passes new legislation day in and day out to deal with all manner of social, economic and political issues and occurrences. The upshot is that every new legislation brings in its trail additional responsibilities to the courts,” he said.
“It is therefore no exaggeration if I say that every piece of legislation passed by Parliament impacting the judiciary increases the workload of the courts without matching financial resources”.
President Hage Geingob, who officially opened the legal year, commended the Judiciary for the revised Judge President’s Practice Note, which enables legal practitioners outside the Flexible Radius of the High Court to provide legal services if they are registered on the e-justice system, thereby promoting access to justice.
Geingob said this demonstrates how the use of ICT can improve operations within the court system to further facilitate access to justice.
He added that there is a lack of availability of qualified legal practitioners to take positions on the bench as judicial officers. He said these challenges negatively affected the overall administration of justice, which may have led to perceived diminishing public trust in the justice system.
“It is pleasing to note that despite the challenges highlighted, you were able to find ways to ensure that access to justice was not hindered”,he observed.
He said the judiciary, like other organs of state, has been constrained by reduced budget allocation, shortage of judicial officers, and limited court infrastructure; the shortage of judicial officers is further compounded by the lack of availability of qualified legal practitioners to take positions on the bench as judicial officers.
Geingob further stated there remain consistent concerns that court rolls are full, and that matters brought before the courts take a long time to be finalised. It is also common cause that there are new phenomena whereby more and more people are resorting to litigation in the event of dispute thus contributing to a heavy caseload on the court roll.
“I encourage the judiciary in collaboration with the minister of justice, and other key players in the legal fraternity to explore innovative ways to increase court capacity through the establishment of specialised courts such as community justice services, small claims courts, family courts, and commercial courts,” he said.
Furthermore, the judiciary will explore various alternative dispute settlement mechanisms to alleviate the caseload in the court roll and to mitigate against the prohibitive legal costs which is a big stumbling block to the majority of Namibians to have reasonable access to justice. He commended the judiciary for the court-guided mediation process that has been established to mitigate the challenge. While commending progress made thus far, he urges the ministry of justice and the judiciary to urgently address the need for improved accessibility to legal services for persons with disabilities through the incorporation of braille and sign language services.
“We should strive not only to ensure a swift delivery of justice but also a fair delivery of justice so that Namibians from all walks of life can have faith in a justice system that caters to all, cares for all, and offers protection to all,” he said.

Fransina Nghidengwa

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