BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A WAR veteran, Frederick Charles Moses Mutandah, has challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa over his enactment of Statutory Instrument (SI) 127 of 2021 saying only Parliament could change country’s laws.
The SI amended two Acts of Parliament, the Exchange Control Act and the Bank Use Promotion Act.
Mutandah argued that the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act was unconstitutional as it allowed Mnangagwa to make plenary laws in Zimbabwe and was, therefore, in breach of section 134 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which prohibits Parliament from delegating its primary law-making power.
“I, therefore, seek an order that the Act be set aside or in the alternative that section 2(2) of the Act be and is hereby declared null and void,” he said.
“Once the Act is set aside, it follows that the regulations, SI 127 of 2021 become a nullity and must be set aside.
“However, the regulations themselves, to the extent that they create offences and empower the Reserve Bank to impose punishment without due process, are clearly a breach of the citizens, right to equal protection and benefit of the law as protected by section 56(1) of the Constitution and further a breach of the rights protected under sections 68 and 69 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Mutandah added: “Thus, even assuming that the President’s powers to make the regulations were lawful, the regulations themselves on their own infringe section 56, section 68 and 69 of the Constitution. This is the nub of the instant application.”
Government promulgated SI 127 of 2021 on May 26, 2021 as an amendment to the country’s financial regulations.
Key provisions of the temporary measures prohibit businesses from selling goods and services or quoting at an exchange rate above the ruling auction market rate, issuing buyers with a Zimbabwean dollar receipt for payment received in foreign currency as well as giving buyers a discount for paying in foreign currency.
The SI also sets out penalties for businesses and individuals that refuse to accept payment in the Zimbabwe dollar at the ruling auction market rate.
Government justified the SI, saying it ensured that businesses that get foreign currency from the auction market do not use the parallel market rates to price their goods and services.
But Mutandah said the SI was a flagrant and blatant breach of constitutionalism.