HIGH Court Judge Justice Joseph Mafusire on Monday 14 July 2014 dismissed an urgent chamber application filed last week by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights challenging the decision by the government to hike road toll fees by up to 100 percent.
In a judgment written by Justice Mafusire and handed down by Justice Francis Bere on Monday 14 July 2014, Justice Mafusire said there was nothing unprocedural in the way Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Hon. Obert Mpofu had promulgated SI 106/2014 which had the effect of increasing road toll fees by up to 100 percent.
Justice Mafusire said it was within Hon. Mpofu power to craft the statutory instrument and it was an action within the exclusive domain of the executive to decide how road construction, rehabilitation and maintenance should be funded.
Such a decision, Justice Mafusire said, is manifestly policy-laden and polycentric. However, Justice Mafusire said the matter was of public importance.
ZLHR which was represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri, Joshua Shekede, Dzimbabwe Chimbga and Givemore Madzoka wanted the High Court to issue an order interdicting the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA), which was represented by Advocate Farai Mutamangira and which opposed the application from administering the new toll gate charges. The new toll gate fees came into effect on Friday 11 July 2014.
ZLHR wanted a public notice issued on Sunday 06 July 2014 by Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Hon. Obert Mpofu advising the public that toll gate fees will be hiked to be suspended. The human rights organisation also wanted the toll gate fee hike to be declared null and void and to be set aside for want of compliance with the provisions of Section 68 of the Constitution as read together with Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act.
The government, through Hon. Mpofu’s ministry recently increased road toll fees by up to 100 percent. Hon. Mpofu even proceeded to impose the hike in toll gate fees without bothering to respond to queries raised by ZLHR in a letter addressed to the Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister and dated 24 June 2014 over the utilisation and accountability of the money collected from designated tolling points around the country.
The human rights organisation argued that the government increased the toll gate fees without consulting it and the general motoring public.
ZLHR said the increase in the toll gate fees was done in contravention of the provisions of Section 68 of the Constitution in terms of which Zimbabwean citizens and every other persons have a right to administrative conduct that is lawful, prompt, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, and impartial, both substantively and procedurally.
The human rights organisation argued that the increase in the toll gate fees was also done in contravention of Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act, (Chapter 10:28), in terms of which Hon. Mpofu was supposed to act lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner.