Picture: 123RF/ DZEJMSDIN
Picture: 123RF/ DZEJMSDIN

More than half of the 207 magistrates appointed by justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola are women, a move expected to improve female representation in the judiciary.

More than half of the country’s population is female and the appointment of the 105 women, to take effect from February 2020, is expected to transform the magistracy to reflect the demographics of the country. 

In 1998, there were 284 female magistrates countrywide, the department said. In June 2019, before the new magistrates were appointed, there were 758 female magistrates nationally.

“The new appointments which we are now making will even further strengthen gender transformation, as more than half of the new incumbents are female, thus bringing the total number of female magistrates to 863 [out of 1,803],” said department spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.

“This means that 47.8% of our magistracy [is] female.”

Magistrates are appointed after a number of processes, including the shortlisting and interviewing of candidates.

Recommendations are made by the Magistrate’s Commission, after the conclusion of the interviews. The recommendations are then submitted to the minister of justice for his consideration and appointment.

The department said the shortlisting of candidates for 249 posts and the interviews of 608 candidates took place from March to April.

The commission submitted its recommendations to Lamola in September.

“The filling of these vacancies is an important step in capacitating our judicial officers and our courts, so as to enable them to deliver justice to all,” Phiri said.