Judges’ leave overseas raises serious questions

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has tasked Chief Justice Ibrahim Juma to investigate and get to the bottom of sources of finance for some judges who are fond of spending their annual leave in posh hotels abroad with their families, in almost annual cycles.

“I have been receiving requests for permits by judges to travel abroad for annual leave where they spend 28 to 30 days with their families in hotels.

They (the judges) always indicate that they will foot the costs for their leave in South Africa, United Kingdom and elsewhere. “What baffles me is how they can afford the holidays every year with their families knowing that the salary of a judge doesn’t differ much from mine,” Dr Magufuli wondered in his speech at the climax of Law Day celebrations in Dar es Salaam yesterday. President Magufuli disclosed before the gathering that he once sought an explanation on the issue from the Chief Justice, but the response was not satisfactory.

“You personally told me that you have never spent your leave abroad; now I want you to get to the bottom of this issue of judges spending their annual leaves abroad and yet other employees spend holidays in their home villages,” Dr Magufuli told the Chief Justice, adding: “The applications for permits to travel abroad by some of the judges have enabled me to conduct a simple research on their conducts.”

On another Judiciary sector-related issue, Dr Magufuli had directed the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, to ensure that regulations for enforcement of the Legal Aid Act of 2017 are finalised before the end of this month. He was apparently outraged by the delay in drafting and gazetting the regulations, almost nine months after the legislation was endorsed by the National Assembly, and which he had accented. “The MPs played their role by enacting the law which aims at helping ordinary people to access legal aid services but nine months have passed since then and the regulations have not been drafted.

“I want the regulations enforced before the end of this month; if the AG (Attorney General) is dillydallying, then draft the regulations yourself,” Dr Magufuli instructed Prof Kabudi who was also present at the function. The President cautioned employees in the Judiciary against unethical practices which tarnished its image and compromised the people’s legal rights.

Dr Magufuli praised the Chief Justice, in his capacity as Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission, for firing 112 employees, including 27 magistrates, who were implicated in corruption and unethical practices. “Other State organs, including the police, prisons department and the anti-corruption bureau should borrow a leaf from the Judiciary by disciplining unprincipled employees,” he said.

The President also took issueswith the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for delays and incompetence, leading to some suspects walking scot-free even when crimes and exhibits were proven by investigators.

Dr Magufuli also called for speedy determination of tax related cases with the total value of 167.1bn/- and US$ 38.2 million dollars at the Tax Appeal Board and Tax Appeal Tribunal to enable the government reap its fair share of revenues.

Source: www.dailynews.co.tz