New traffic fines illegal: Experts

via New traffic fines illegal: Experts – NewsDay Zimbabwe January 7, 2016

THE new traffic fines gazetted by the government last week are illegal and motorists have a right to refuse paying the penalties if demanded by police as spot fines, legal experts and analysts have said.


Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said although Parliament had passed a presentation of the budget which had pronunciation by the Finance minister introducing the new traffic fines, there was no law yet to support the charges and they could be challenged in the courts of law.

“A resolution of Parliament approving the speech (budget presentation) is not a law-making process, the Finance Act giving effect to the budget measures promulgated on December 31, 2015 has nothing on fines,” he said.

Madhuku said any motorist penalised using the new structure of fines for any traffic offence had a right to challenge it in the courts of law.

“If a person is fined, there are two main options: One is to pay and do nothing about it, thus condoning or allowing the illegality. The second is to refuse to pay and raise illegality in court. However, this second option depends on how the refusal to pay is treated,” Madhuku said.

“If upon refusal, an arrest is made, the illegality point is raised during appearance in court, including seeking a referral to the Constitutional Court,” he said.

Local legal think-tank Veritas said the new traffic fines were still not enforceable as no legal processes had been done to make the fines legally binding.

Government last month announced a new traffic fine structure which has seen penalties for traffic offences going up from a mininimum of $20 to $100 with effect from this month.
However, anti-corruption campaigners have warned that the steep fines were likely to worsen corruption in the police force.

During the parliamentary debates, MPs in the National Assembly spoke against the new tariffs saying they could exarcebate corruption as most motorists would be unable to pay the stipulated amounts and in the process, be open for manipulation. Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has already threatened to file a court challenge against the fines.