9 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Toll Gates - Lawyers Take Mpofu to Court

Photo: Herald

RIGHTS group, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), on Wednesday approached the High Court in a bid to force government to reverse a 100 percent toll gate fee increase announced early this week.

The lawyers' group is arguing that that government is in breach of Section 68 of the Constitution which demands that the state consults citizens on such issues.

ZLHR cited Transport Minister, Obert Mpofu, the Zimbabwe National Road and Administration (ZINARA) and the Attorney General as first, second and third respondent respectively.

"On 4 July 2014, the first respondent (Mpofu) published the toll roads (regional trunk road network, amendment number 5 Statutory Instrument 106\2014), in which he increased the toll fees payable by motorists in terms of the Toll Roads Act.

"The increase in the toll fees mentioned was not done in consultation with the applicant and the general motoring public," ZLHR averred in the application.

"The increase in the toll 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 lobby group argued that the increase in the toll fees was also done in contravention of Section 3 of the Administrative Justice Act, [Chapter 10:28], in terms of which Mpofu "was supposed to act lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner".

ZLHR is now seeking a declaratory order from the High Court so that the increase is rescinded.

"In terms of ... the Administrative Justice Act, supra, this court has the jurisdiction to set aside any administrative action taken in contravention of Section 3 of the of the said Act. "This court has the jurisdiction to grant declaratory relief together with such other ancillary relief as may be asked of it by any interested party in terms of section 14 of the High Court Act.

"In terms of section 4 of Statutory Instrument 39/2014, (Zinara) is the authorised agent of (Mpofu) in the collection of toll fees. The Applicant has a reasonable fear that the Zinara will proceed to implement (the fee hike) come the 11th July 2014," the application reads.

"The Applicant therefore seeks interim relief barring (Zinara) from implementing (the hike) pending the finalisation of the Applicant's challenge ... ,"read the application."

Mpofu announced that toll fees had been increased by a staggering 100%, with small cars now required $2, up from $1, while haulage trucks will fork out $10, up from $5.

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