Zimind piles pressure on ministers over Zupco deal

Source: Zimind piles pressure on ministers over Zupco deal | Theindependent (Zimbabwe)

The High Court case in which the Zimbabwe Independent and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) is suing three government ministers for refusing to release information on the procurement of Zupco buses is raging on with the Independent editor, Faith Zaba digging her heels to get the information.

The Independent and TIZ are suing the ministers of Local Government and Public Works, Finance and Economic Development and Transport and Infrastructural Development under the Administrative Justice Act.

The ministers — July Moyo, Mthuli Ncube and Felix Mhona — who are the first, second and fourth respondents respectively are being sued together with Zupco (third respondent) for refusing to provide written reasons on why they failed to provide information on the procurement of the buses.

In her answering affidavit to the respondents’ opposing submissions to the lawsuit filed on October 29, Zaba argued that Moyo was being sued for refusing to give requested information on Zupco deals.

Moyo had instead of responding to queries by the Independent issued a statement in the press which Zaba argues does not constitute a written response to a request for information as required by law.

The minister had argued that the Independent could have requested for the same information from the Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED).

But Zaba said they had no knowledge of hiring arrangements between the department and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.

“This information was requested from the First Respondent and the request was ignored, so too was the request for written reasons. It is clear from the averments . . . that information relating to the purchase or hiring arrangements between CMED, and the Third Respondent is known by the First respondent who also refused to give written reasons for the refusal after being requested,” she argues.

Zaba, who is being represented by lawyers, Atherstone and Cook, dismissed Moyo’s averment that he had not refused to supply answers as requested.

“It is vehemently denied that the First Respondent directed the Applicants to CMED. This (is) merely a bald and unsubstantiated allegation which is not supported by any evidence.

“I must clarify that the applicants are not seeking an order compelling the First Respondent to provide information, but rather, an order compelling him to supply the applicants with written reasons for refusing to disclose the requested information,” she said.

Zaba also applied that Ncube be barred from proceedings while his opposing papers be expunged from the court records as they were improperly before the courts.

Zaba, however, argued that the relief sought by the ZimInd and TZI were not based on the written requests by Ncube’s failure to supply reasons for failing to comply with the newspaper’s request for information.

She also submitted that remedies provided under the Freedom of Information Act presupposed that the applicants were challenging the refusal to provide requested information and this was not the case in the lawsuit.

“Applicants are requesting the Court to compel Second Respondent to supply Applicants with written reasons for the refusal to provide the requested information, which relief is not available under the Freedom of Information Act,” she said.

Zaba argued that the Independent and TZI were not asking the High Court to investigate Moyo’s involvement in the procurement of the buses nor are they seeking a review of the buying of the buses.

She also asserted that the lawsuit was not related to question marks surrounding the procurement of the buses but information requested following an investigation into the transaction to afford Moyo an opportunity to clarify the issue.

“The request for information was refused resulting in a request for written reasons which is the basis of the factual averments made in the founding affidavit as forming the Applicant’s cause of action,” she said.

Agreeing that Ncube had washed his hands of responsibility to the transaction arguing that the ministry approved payment, she argued that the minister had failed to answer specific questions which fall within his admitted mandate.

“This is the basis upon which a request for written reasons for his refusal to answer these questions was made, which request for written reasons has birthed the present proceedings,” she said.

The post Zimind piles pressure on ministers over Zupco deal appeared first on The Zimbabwe Independent.

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