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Zimbabwe's Lower Courts In Turmoil As Magistrates Strike Enters Ninth Week

A strike by many of Zimbabwe's magistrates and prosecutors entered its ninth week as 2008 opened with no resolution in sight, leaving the lower court system in turmoil.

Sources said judicial officers in major cities reported for work this week but handled no cases. Senior magistrates and police officers were said to be handling some cases while others were being continued to later dates, the sources said.

Magistrates and prosecutors went on strike on October 31 demanding higher pay, but the government said it cannot afford to revise their wages. A Zimbabwean magistrate typically earns a monthly salary of Z$20 million, or less than US$10.

Legal Affairs Secretary Innocent Gonese of the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the strike is hurting many people including witnesses who must travel long distances only to be told that the cases have been continued.

The magistrate has also left many accused languishing in jail unable to obtain bail.

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