‘Mthuli’s economic measures illegal’ 

Source: ‘Mthuli’s economic measures illegal’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

LEGAL think tank Veritas has poked holes into recent measures announced by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube to tame inflation saying they undermined Parliament’s legislative role.

In its latest Bill Watch publication, Veritas said neither the President nor his ministers, nor any government officials, could create laws by simply making public announcements.

Last month during a Press conference, Ncube announced several new measures to help sustain the local currency following months of flogging by inflation. Treasury also officially announced that it would codify the use of the United States dollar into law, which would allow businesses to display greenback pricing in their shops, something that was not happening.

But Veritas said such public announcements were not legally binding unless they were embodied into law, either by the passing of an Act of Parliament or the issuing of a valid statutory instrument.

“Like the economic measures announced in early May, these measures appear to have been formulated with less regard for the law than they should have been. The way they were announced — at a Press conference, is also open to criticism,” Veritas said.

“The minister should have announced them in the National Assembly, giving parliamentarians an opportunity to criticise them and make suggestions for their improvement. Parliament, with its responsibility for overseeing State revenues and expenditure, has an important role in ensuring good economic governance.  Parliament should therefore be involved, or at least consulted, in the formulation of economic policy.”

Veritas also noted that although President Emmerson Mnangagwa had invoked the Presidential Powers Act to criminalise violation of exchange controls under Statutory Instrument (SI) 118A of 22, its dictates were in contrast to Mthuli’s pronouncements that the use of the multi-currency system had been put into law for a period of five years.

“SI 118A of 2022 will amend the Exchange Control Act to state that, until the 31st December 2025 that is for a period of three and half years, not five. In the first place, the SI is made under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act, which Veritas contends is unconstitutional on the ground that it gives the President legislative powers that go beyond the limits set by section 134 of the Constitution.  Hence the SI is arguably invalid.”

Veritas implored government to include parliamentary oversight in all legislative processes.