3 July 2019

Zimbabwe: Harare Lawyer Seeks to Reverse Govt's De-Dollarisation Move

A Harare lawyer on Tuesday 2 July 2019 filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to set aside and declare the decision by government to ban the multi-currency system in the country as grossly unreasonable and unconstitutional.

Government on 24 June 2019 and without notice published regulations known as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Legal Tender) Regulations S.I. 142 of 2019 which purportedly outlawed the basket of foreign currencies as legal tender in any transactions in Zimbabwe and declared as sole legal tender the Zimbabwe Dollar.

This directive confirmed the discontinuation of the multi-currency system and further confirmed the Zimbabwe dollar as the sole currency to be used in domestic transactions.

But in an application filed by Rudo Magundani and Evans Moyo of Scanlen and Holderness Legal Practitioners, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Godfrey Mupanga, a human rights lawyer, who indicated that he is aggrieved by the government and RBZ policies, wants the High Court to proclaim that the declaration by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Legal Tender) Regulations S.I. 142 of 2019 are null and void in that they are in contravention of Section 134(c) of the Constitution.

Alternatively, Mupanga also wants the court to declare that the provisions of Section 64 as read with Section 44A of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 22:15 be declared unconstitutional and therefore null and void to the extent that they are inconsistent with

Section 134(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and/or for want of compliance with Section 134 (f) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

In addition, the human rights lawyer, who cited Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and the RBZ as respondents, wants the court to issue an order setting aside the decision by Ncube and the RBZ to ban the multi-currency system in Zimbabwe prescribed by Section 44A of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 22:15 as legal tender on the grounds that it is grossly unreasonable.

Mupanga argued that the regulations made by Ncube, which purport to amend the principal legislation through subsidiary legislation are manifestly inconsistent with the Act of Parliament under which they are made and this in itself contravenes Section 134 (c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

The RBZ Act, Mupanga argued, specifically entrenches and still provides in section 44A (2) the British Pound, Euro, United States Dollar, South Africa Rand and Botswana Pula as legal tender in Zimbabwe.

The human rights lawyer argued that Ncube cannot amend a principal legislation as this is a primary law-making power that can only be exercised by Parliament and considering that the statutory instrument would significantly affect the national economy or people's lives.

Mupanga, who is also a lecturer at University of Zimbabwe charged that the decision by government is grossly irrational and unreasonable in that the use of the Zimbabwe dollar as sole legal tender was abandoned in 2009 because it failed as a currency and that there is no evidence that there are economic fundamentals in place to support the introduction of the Zimbabwe Dollar.

Lastly, Mupanga argued that the sudden chopping and changing of policies by government since the introduction of the bond notes and coins undermines the trust and confidence of the public as well as the international community and this in itself will undermine the value of the Zimbabwe Dollar in the market.

The matter is yet to be set down for hearing by the Registrar of the High Court.

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