The Magistrates' Court in Zimbabwe is established in terms of section 163 (1) (f) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The jurisdiction of the various levels of magistrates in both criminal and civil cases remains prescribed by the Magistrates' Court Act (Chapter 7:10). The appointment of magistrates is also governed by section 7 of the Magistrates' Court Act as read with section 5(1) (c) of the Judicial Service Act (Chapter 7:18).
Jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts
All grades of magistrates have the same jurisdiction in civil cases. The jurisdiction is determinable in terms of categories specified in section 11 of the Magistrates' Court Act. The main determinants are causes of action and territorial demarcations. The monetary jurisdiction of the court is prescribed under the Magistrates' Court (Civil Jurisdiction) (Monetary Limits) Rules, 2019 SI 126/2019.
In terms of Section 49 of the Magistrates' Court Act [Chapter 7:10] the court is empowered to deal with all criminal offences except those specified in that section; which are treason, murder or any offence where an enactment requires that a person convicted of the offence shall be sentenced to death. The ordinary sentencing jurisdiction of the different magisterial grades as provided for in Section 50 of the Act is briefly described below. Some enactments however provide for increased sentencing jurisdiction of the different categories of magistrates.
- Imprisonment for a period not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding level 7. On remittal by the Prosecutor-General: - imprisonment for a period not exceeding 4 years or a fine not exceeding level 9.
- Imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or a fine not exceeding level 9.
- Imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding level 10.
- Imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding level 12.
Chief magistrate and Deputy Chief magistrate:
- Both of them possess the jurisdiction of a regional magistrate when sitting in any regional division and that of a provincial magistrate in any province.
The Administrative Structure of the Magistracy
The magistracy is headed by a Chief Magistrate who is supported by a deputy chief magistrate and a principal administrator. Below that level are three senior regional magistrates each in charge of one of the three of the Eastern, Central and Western regional divisions in the country. There are also ten provincial magistrates each in charge of one of the ten magisterial provinces in the country. The provinces are Harare Metropolitan, Bulawayo Metropolitan, Matabeleland North Province, Matabeleland South Province, Midlands Province, Mashonaland West Province, Mashonaland East Province, Mashonaland Central Province, Manicaland Province and Masvingo Province.
The magisterial provinces comprise of the 10 provincial stations and 46 resident courts to make a total of 56 stations. The resident courts are each headed by a resident magistrate. In addition, there are 48 periodic courts situated at various centres across the country. The magistracy as the lower judiciary, is supported by expert staffers in human resources, administration and finance which mirror the set up at the Judicial Service Commission secretariat.
- , Judicial Service Commission, Accessed: 9 October, 2020