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Zimbabwe spends thousands of dollars to import judges' wigs from UK that cost £1,850 each

Zimbabwe spends thousands of dollars to import judges wigs from UK that cost £1,850 each...

Chief judges of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. © Belal Khaled/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Zimbabwean government has come under fire for importing judges' wigs costing thousands of dollars.

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The Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reports that the country's Judiciary Service Commission placed an order for 64 horse-hair wigs from Stanley Ley Legal Outfitters in London, at a cost of £1,850 ($2,428) per wig and totaling £118,400 ($155,000), which amounts to 55,654,335.99 Zimbabwean dollar.

Wigs from the outfitter range in price from £457.50 ($599) for a standard barrister's wig, to £2,495.83 ($3,265) for a judge's ceremonial wig.

Stanley Ginsburg, the owner of Stanley Ley, confirmed to CNN that his company had sold wigs to Zimbabwe, but he said the actual number of wigs ordered was "no way near the number" quoted by the Zimbabwe Independent.

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The purchase has generated heat in the Southern African country, where economic opportunities are on the decline.

“The conditions in Zimbabwe’s courts are dire and yet they can find money for wigs costing thousands of pounds — it’s obnoxious,” Arnold Tsunga of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) told the Times.

"What surprises me in Zimbabwe is that we say everything against colonialism but we live more colonial than the colonizers themselves,” Harare based lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said to the Guardian.

“A normal litigant would be intimidated to get into a courtroom full of ridiculously dressed judges. Why can we not dress decently? If we want to wear wigs, why can’t we make them in our own way? Those wigs were meant for white judges – we look ridiculous.”

Hopewell Chin'ono, a leading Zimbabwean journalist and documentary filmmaker, wrote: "I have argued that this country suffers from a catastrophic mismanagement of resources. How do you explain a government allocating $155,000 for wigs to be bought in England when the same government is failing to buy bandages and betadine for infants in pediatric wards. These are people who shout about sovereignty and anti-colonial rhetoric and yet they are still wearing hideous wigs."

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Chin'ono said the former colonial powers are "having a laugh" at Zimbabwe, stating: "You can take Zimbabwe out of the empire, but you can't take the empire out of Zimbabwe."

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