Judiciary Must Embrace Performance Contracting

Published on 12th October 2009

The Government has embraced the concept of performance contracting for her employees as a means by which output can be measured by the people. It has also gone a step and decided that such performances must be evaluated by the public, the people who consume such services.


Performance contracts go hand in hand with Rapid Results Management Concept where deliberate effort is put in place within a set time frame, preferably 100 days, to achieve results. Rapid Results Initiative are hence used to establish results based culture in the delivery of service while enhancing the management and implementation skills required for producing results.


It is gratifying to note that several sections of the Government have signed Performance Contracts to enable the public, who are their principal employers, to vet their output.


This concept has been resisted by the Judiciary. And I want to put a case that should compel the public to insist that members of the judiciary are subjected to a rigid regime that ensures Rapid Results and more so, makes the public to regain confidence in the dispensation of Justice in Kenya.


Several cases have been pending at our registries all across the country with litigants complaining of delay in ruling and in other cases, misapplication of justice. We have very simple cases that ought to take only one day being delayed for as long as 10 years, yet, the public cannot query what actually goes on in the courts. We have cases where Magistrates and Judges come to the courts late, listens to a few cases as they drone in monotones that are incoherent to the litigants, and then promptly disappear. They behave as conveyor belts giving new dates for all the files that are placed in front of them.


Cases of people traveling from far distances to come and listen to their cases being handled gets shallow attention as the Magistrate or Judge promptly give fresh dates for hearing, without taking into account that litigants have traveled from far. It is like the litigants are being punished instead of receiving justice.


We also have cases of outright incompetence from the men and women sitting in the Bench. This has been occasioned by the secretive ways in which they are appointed. Some are appointed not based on their professional competence, but based on their friendship to the appointing authorities.


We have a case of a woman who was appointed a Judge simply because she had sued a senior person for child maintenance. We also have others who were appointed Judges because they offered sexual services to the appointing authorities. Yet we have some who have simply been appointed to act like official gate keepers. They serve the interests of the appointing authority; they do not serve the law.


But then, we also have men and women in the Bench who are beyond reproach. They are prompt in courts, they talk very clearly, they dispense justice with the efficiency that it deserves, they delay no cases and above all, they are well learned in law; people we can call with all confidence as learned Colleagues.


Not all lawyers are learned colleagues. Some just went through law classes as a matter of convenience. The Chief Justice knows about all of this and that is why, he is resisting the Judiciary being put under Performance Contracts and them embracing the concept of Rapid Results Initiatives.


In this modern day and time, we all know the law. When a case is decided badly, we all know. It is not only the Magistrates and the Judges who are read in law. Many in the public are well conversed in law and cases where there is out right judicial manipulation, we will all detect it. And this is why we ought to demand that Magistrates and Judges are committed to Performance Contracts and Rapid Results Initiative.


Through such engagement, the public will help stem the rot that is our judicial system. Magistrates and Judges who perform should be commended and promoted. Those who under perform must to go back home, while the official gatekeepers will be shamed.


It is through Performance Contracts and Rapid Results Initiatives that we will be able to clearly determine how many cases each Magistrate and Judge handles in a day, and how many of such cases are dispensed with.


The public must demand that the Judiciary staff in the bench are subjected to bench marks as defined in the Performance Contracts. The Chief Justice owes the country this unless there is an official oath he took in secret to serve and promote corruption in the Judiciary.


By Odhiambo T. Oketch,

Chair; Stakeholders Evaluation Team –Nairobi

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