MESSAGE FROM THE PERMANENT SECRETARY

The 2015/16 financial year once again proved to be a challenging one, but the Ministry endeavored to improve its overall performance, amongst others, through regular strategic review progress meetings and an attempt to finalize the implementation of the Performance Management System. While this did not go as well as one would have hoped, I am satisfied that strides were at least made to accomplish this important intervention towards improved public service delivery.

The time it takes to process legal aid applications, which has always been a huge concern, was reduced from an estimated 20 working days to 10 working days. Furthermore, we managed to achieve a 59% to 41% ratio of in-house legal aid counsel vis-à-vis instructions to private practitioners which is quite an achievement considering not only the reduction in costs, but the opportunity for quality assurance.

The Ministry has been concerned to ensure that it reduces the cost of providing legal aid by reducing the number of instructions issued to private legal practitioners by increasing the number of legal aid council on the establishment of the Directorate of Legal Aid.

The amended Rules of the High Court were published in the Government Gazette on 17 January 2014 and came into operation on 16 April 2014. These amendments aim, amongst others, to ensure judiciary oversight in certain civil litigation matters such as the selling of houses in lieu of outstanding debt, which will no doubt go a long way in preventing citizens from losing the roofs over their heads during these difficult economic times.

During the period under review, existing magistrate’s courts at Outapi and Eenhana were upgraded and completed, while documentation was finalized for the construction of a new magistrate’s court at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region. I am also happy to report that the documentation for the comprehensive upgrading of the Justitia Building was finally completed after many years of struggling to get this project off the ground.

However, as indicated earlier, the achievements did not come without challenges; amongst others, the Ministry experienced serious financial and human resources constraints as well as others reported on under each directorate. Despite the many challenges facing the Ministry, the staff members mostly managed to deliver on the objectives as a team. I wish to reiterate that the Ministry will continue its commitment to skills development and capacity building, including the funding of applicable tertiary studies considered essential for the growth of the Ministry.

I would like to thank all staff members who worked hard to ensure a successful 2015/16 financial year for the Ministry.