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Magistrates In Seven of 10 Zimbabwean Provinces Now Out On Strike

A strike by Zimbabwean magistrates now in its third week has paralyzed the judicial system such that police officers with some legal training have been brought in to help provincial magistrates in the main urban centers keep the wheels of justice grinding.

But assistance from the provinces may not be lasting - magistrates and prosecutors from Mashonaland West Province joined the strike Thursday, bringing the number of provinces concerned to seven of 10, with disruption throughout the country.

Members of the parliamentary committee on justice who met Thursday with Ministry of Justice officials heard that the government does not have money to meet the demands of the striking magistrates because the ministry has exhausted its 2007 budget.

Magistrates are now demanding an increase in pay to a monthly Z$140 million, about US$140, having stepped this up from an initial demand of $80 million. Figures leaked from the national statistical agency showed inflation in October at 14,841%.

University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Lovemore Madhuku told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare has shown it is not taking the strike seriously by saying it does not have enough money to reach a settlement.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...