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Zimbabwe Magistrates Vow to Remain on Strike as Negotiations Deadlock

Lawyers said the strike by magistrates has brought the first-instance court system to a halt with those being held by the police pending arraignment most affected by the work stoppage on benches

Striking Zimbabwean magistrates said they would continue to leave benches vacant after a meeting in Harare on Tuesday between the Judicial Services Commission and the Magistrates Association of Zimbabwe failed to yield results.

A terse joint statement issued after the meeting said the three parties will continue to engage and inform the public on progress, correspondent Irwin Chifera reported.

Both parties to the dispute apologized to the public for the inconveniences that have been caused by the strike, which began on Monday.

A Judicial Services Commission member speaking on condition of anonymity said it is up to the Magistrates Association to decide what to do next.

He said his commission receives an allocation from the Treasury so there was no way under the current budget that it can meet the demands of magistrates who want an entry level salary of US$1,000 a month and US$3,300 for the chief magistrate.

Currently magistrates earn between US$200 and US$300 a month.

The country’s court system has ground to a halt following the strike by the magistrates and their support staff.

Magistrates Association President Douglas Vakai Chikwekwe told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that his members will meet soon to decide the next step.

Lawyer Lizwe Jamela told reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that with magistrates on strike individuals held by police pending arraignment were most seriously affected.